November 2023 TBR Book List – Food Fiction & Highly Anticipated Reads

Welcome, book friends!

If you’d prefer to listen to this book list, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. 

I invite you over to Instagram or X (aka Twitter) to let me know what you’re reading this month or what you want to read before the end of the year or what you thought of any of the books on my list.

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So, my reading consumption has been absolutely INSANE these past few months. Since August, I’ve been devouring books left and right, from physical books to audiobooks to graphic novels to digital books from my library app to NetGalley books. Honestly, I’m burning myself out, trying to consume as much as possible. I’m also very well aware that I’ve fallen way, WAY behind in my in-depth book reviews. I haven’t done one of those episodes since the end of August. I’ve just been focusing so hard on reading as much as possible and getting seasonal content out there. I wanna say that I really need to back off and not read so much this month, but I’m sure that won’t happen. Because… we are at the end of the year, and there are still SO many books that I want to get in before we head into 2024.

November Reading Themes

So, let’s talk about this month’s reading themes because I do have two in mind. When I first started planning this month’s TBR book list, I wanted to read an entire month of food fiction since it’s the month of Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.), which is all about food and feasting. But then, I realized that there were quite a few highly anticipated books that I wanted to read before the end of the year, and I knew I wouldn’t get to them in December because that month is already spoken for with many holiday books. So November is the last chance for me to squeeze in some of these books. So I decided to split the theme – half will be food fiction and half will be highly anticipated reads.

Also, I know a lot of people do Non-Fiction November, where they read a bunch of non-fiction books. I haven’t read any non-fiction books this year. I’ve specifically stayed away from this genre because that’s basically 95% of what I read these past ten-plus years, and I really wanted to dive into fiction this year. I read a lot of spiritual and new age books as well as motivational, self-help books. However, I know there are a lot of other types of non-fiction out there. So I wanted to check out a few of those as well this month.

Therefore, I have decided to participate in Non-Fiction November via audiobooks. So my physical TBR list will be the other two categories, and then any audiobooks that I listen to from the library will be non-fiction, or at least the majority of them will be non-fiction. I actually don’t know what I’m going to listen to yet, so you’ll have to come back at the end of the month for the wrap-up episode to hear what I listened to then. Or if you follow me on GoodReads, you’ll see in real-time what I’m reading. It just depends on what becomes available to me.

There is a BookTuber that I follow, Olive with A Book Olive, who reads a majority of non-fiction books. Her taste is pretty eclectic, but I enjoy seeing what she’s reading and have gotten quite a few recommendations from her that seem interesting. So I have found some of those titles on my library app as well.

I also have a few books from NetGalley that I need to get to before they expire. I think I have four on that platform. 

And then as far as my monthly buddy read with my best friend, I didn’t get through last month’s book, which was The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I have started it, but it was very slow-paced and wasn’t keeping my attention, but my friend assures me that if I keep powering through, it does get better and picks up in pacing. I was going to soft DNF it and push it to later next year, but I have decided to keep going after speaking to her about it, so I’m actually transferring that read from October to November. 

So those are the plans for the month. Another ambitious month, I know, but I’m excited!! For someone who is saying they are burned out, I’m definitely not doing a good job of trying to rest. But that will probably happen at the first of the year. So until then, I’ve got stories to read!!

November To Be Read (TBR) Book List

Here are all the books I want to read this month.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie Holmberg

Average GR Rating: 3.96
Genre: Romance Fantasy | Magical Realism
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is―as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

Why I Chose This Book: If you’ve listened to past episodes, you know how much I love Charlie Holmberg. She has become one of my favorite authors. And when I saw that she had a fantasy/magical realism book about food, I knew I had to read it. It fits perfectly for my food fiction theme this month. 

The story sounds so unique and interesting. It reminds me of the late 90s romcom, Simply Irresistible, with Sarah Michelle Gellar. She inherits a restaurant and magically, she puts her emotions in the food she cooks and tries to get the guy she likes to fall for her. It’s really cute. So if this book is like that story, then I’m really looking forward to it.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Average GR Rating: 4.14
Genre: Cozy Fantasy | Cozy Mystery
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…

Why I Chose This Book: I’ve heard so many people talk about this author. I tried to read her newest book, A House with Good Bones but ended up DNFing it. However, I am willing to give her another try. I’ve heard really good things about this book. It sounds funny, charming, cute, and definitely cozy. I also love me a good murder mystery. So I’m hopeful that this book will be better than the last one.

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell

Average GR Rating: 3.52
Genre: Mystery & Family | Cozy Mystery
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: For six amateur bakers, competing in Bake Week is a dream come true.

When they arrive at Grafton Manor to compete, they’re ready to do whatever it takes to win the ultimate The Golden Spoon.

But for the show’s famous host, Betsy Martin, Bake Week is more than just a competition. Grafton Manor is her family’s home and legacy – and Bake Week is her life’s work. It’s imperative that both continue to succeed.

But as the competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s small acts of sabotage. Someone switching sugar for salt. A hob turned far too high.

But when a body is discovered, it’s clear that for someone in the competition, The Golden Spoon is a prize worth killing for…

Why I Chose This Book: I’ve heard this book is Clue meets The Great British Baking Show. Food, a baking competition, an old manor, and a murder to solve… absolutely sign me up! I’ve heard some BookTubers say that it’s pretty good, but it does have mixed reviews. I’m going in with an open mind, not expecting too much. I like to just have fun with these types of cozy mysteries. I have both the book and audiobook for this one, so I will see how I want to read this book.

Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge

Average GR Rating: 3.63
Genre: Mystery & Thriller | Cozy Mystery
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: As Paris rediscovers its Joy of Living, Tabitha Knight, recently arrived from Detroit for an extended stay with her French grandfather, is on her own journey of discovery. Paris isn’t just the City of Light; it’s the city of history, romance, stunning architecture . . . and food. Thanks to her neighbor and friend Julia Child, another ex-pat who’s fallen head over heels for Paris, Tabitha is learning how to cook for her Grandpère and Oncle Rafe.

Between tutoring Americans in French, visiting the market, and eagerly sampling the results of Julia’s studies at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, Tabitha’s sojourn is proving thoroughly delightful. That is, until the cold December day they return to Julia’s building and learn that a body has been found in the cellar. Tabitha recognizes the victim as a woman she’d met only the night before, at a party given by Julia’s sister, Dort. The murder weapon found nearby is recognizable too—a knife from Julia’s kitchen.

Tabitha is eager to help the investigation, but is shocked when Inspector Merveille reveals that a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, was found in the dead woman’s pocket. Is this murder a case of international intrigue, or something far more personal? From the shadows of the Tour Eiffel at midnight, to the tiny third-floor Child kitchen, to the grungy streets of Montmartre, Tabitha navigates through the city hoping to find the real killer before she or one of her friends ends up in prison . . . or worse.

Why I Chose This Book: When I read the description of this book and saw it had Julia Child in it with a murder mystery, immediately, I knew I had to add it to my TBR list. I absolutely LOVE anything with Julia Child in it. I’ve never read anything by this author, and I haven’t seen anyone talk about this book, but it sounds so interesting. This is also the first book in a new series called American In Paris Mystery. The second book will come out next April in 2024, so if this is really good, then I may have to pre-order the sequel. I have both the book and audiobook for this one, so I will see how I want to read this book.

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Average GR Rating: 3.96
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Two years into WW2, Britain is feeling her losses; the Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is putting on a cooking contest–and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest presents a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For the lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all–even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together serve only to break it apart?

Why I Chose This Book: I wanted to add a historical fiction to the mix, and when I was researching food fiction books, this one popped up and was pretty popular. I read the description and thought it sounded really good. I love following along different characters, getting to know them and their backstories. It sounds like each lady has a motive behind wanting to winning this competition. Also, who doesn’t love a food competition? I think this is going to be a good one.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Average GR Rating: 4.27
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish—into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.

Why I Chose This Book: This is about as popular as Fourth Wing this year. I’ve seen everyone and their mother talk about this book. At one time, it was sold out and you couldn’t get it. The sequel is coming out at the end of December, which I know many book reviewers have pre-ordered. So I’m really excited to finally hop on the Rebecca Ross train and see what this book is all about. 

I’ve heard it has the feels of You’ve Got Mail, which I love that 90s romcom. I’m not a huge fan of the enemies to lovers romance trope, but if it’s done well, it could be really good. So I have pretty high hopes for this one.

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

Average GR Rating: 4.07
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance | Gothic
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Effy Sayre has always believed in fairy tales. She’s had no choice. Since childhood, she’s been haunted by visions of the Fairy King. She’s found solace only in the pages of Angharad – author Emrys Myrddin’s beloved epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, and then destroys him.

Effy’s tattered, dog-eared copy is all that’s keeping her afloat through her stifling first term at Llyr’s prestigious architecture college. So when Myrddin’s family announces a contest to design the late author’s house, Effy feels certain this is her destiny.

But Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task: a musty, decrepit estate on the brink of crumbling into a hungry sea. And when Effy arrives, she finds she isn’t the only one who’s made a temporary home there. Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar, is studying Myrddin’s papers and is determined to prove her favorite author is a fraud.

As the two rival students investigate the reclusive author’s legacy, piecing together clues through his letters, books, and diaries, they discover that the house’s foundation isn’t the only thing that can’t be trusted. There are dark forces, both mortal and magical, conspiring against them – and the truth may bring them both to ruin.

Why I Chose This Book: This book was not on my radar until recently when it absolutely blew up in the book world. I’ve seen everyone talking about this book, giving it five stars, and hyping it up as one of the best books of the year. Now, usually, extremely hyped-up books and me don’t mix, but I’m willing to give these books a try. My husband was sweet and surprised me with this book as a random gift. I was going to dive into it last month because it’s a brand-new release (it just came out in mid-September), but I thought I would save it for this month to add to my pile of highly anticipated reads. 

I’ve never read anything by this author, and I get skeptical about YA fantasy romances, especially with a rival romance (enemies to lovers), but I hope this one lives up to the hype.

The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Average GR Rating: 4.23
Genre: Fantasy | Magical Realism
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Years ago, a reclusive mega-bestselling children’s author quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Suddenly he resurfaces with a brand-new book and a one-of-a-kind competition, offering a prize that will change the winner’s life in this absorbing and whimsical novel.

Make a wish…

Lucy Hart knows better than anyone what it’s like to grow up without parents who loved her. In a childhood marked by neglect and loneliness, Lucy found her solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, she is able to share her love of reading with bright, young students, especially seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, who was left orphaned after the tragic death of his parents. Lucy would give anything to adopt Christopher, but even the idea of becoming a family seems like an impossible dream without proper funds and stability.

But be careful what you wish for…

Just when Lucy is about to give up, Jack Masterson announces he’s finally written a new book. Even better, he’s holding a contest at his home on the real Clock Island, and Lucy is one of the four lucky contestants chosen to compete to win the one and only copy.

For Lucy, the chance of winning the most sought-after book in the world means everything to her and Christopher. But first she must contend with ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and the distractingly handsome (and grumpy) Hugo Reese, the illustrator of the Clock Island books. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.

…You might just get it.

Why I Chose This Book: This is another one where so many people have hyped up this book, and it has received a ton of love on social media, videos, and has a pretty high GoodReads score. Many BookTubers that I follow are already saying it’s one of their top books of the year, so I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about. 

Also, the story sounds really cute and creative. Anything to do with books, writing, and authors, mixed with fantasy elements, I will be interested in reading it. This one just sounds delightful.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

Average GR Rating: 3.71
Genre: Gothic | Fantasy
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after—and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.

But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage . . . or their lives.

Combining the lush, haunting atmosphere of Mexican Gothic with the dreamy enchantment of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a spellbinding and darkly romantic page-turner about love and lies, secrets and betrayal, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.

Why I Chose This Book: This is another book that has a lot of hype around it, but it does have mixed reviews. So I’m curious to see what I think about it. It sounds extremely atmospheric and gothic. I’ve found out through some books that I’ve read this year that I really like gothic books. 

After reading the description, it absolutely reminded me of Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia, which I loved, and then the description said it’s also like The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, which is one of my favorite books of the year so far. So I’m really excited to check this book out.

The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Average GR Rating: 3.87
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance | Magical Realism
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina—and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

Why I Chose This Book: I have read two of Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s books this year. In August, I read Mexican Gothic and absolutely loved it. And then I read The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. I didn’t like that one as much, but it was still pretty good. I absolutely love her writing. It’s lush, lyrical, and very descriptive. She knows how to immerse her readers into the story. Her books are gothic, eerie, and extremely atmospheric, which I love. So, I wanted to read another one of her books, and I saw many book reviewers say that this one was a favorite of theirs. I also love historical fantasy stories with magical realism in them, so I’m really hoping that I love this book.

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

Average GR Rating: 4.35
Genre: Cozy Fantasy
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Viv’s career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam’s Ravens isn’t going as planned.

Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it.

What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?

Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn’t possibly imagine.

Still, adventure isn’t all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected.

Why I Chose This Book: This is a new release, and I have pre-ordered this book, so when this comes out on the 7th, it will be here. I’m planning to start it as soon as it is delivered. I read Legends & Lattes at the beginning of the year and really enjoyed it. It was actually the book that got me into cozy fantasies and introduced me to the online book world. Legends & Lattes was a cute, charming, and definitely cozy book. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it was still very delightful. It was a quick read and gave those warm, fuzzy feelings, so even though this is a prequel story about Viv, I’m hoping it gives those same cozy vibes.

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Average GR Rating: 4.42
Genre: Contemporary | Magical Realism
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

Why I Chose This Book: I have not read any contemporary books this year, but I’ve heard many, many BookTubers and book reviewers say this is one of the best books they’ve ever read. The ratings are super high on GoodReads (GR) and it was up for some GR awards, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It does have some magical realism in it, so it’s not a pure contemporary story, but it sounds so cute and charming. 

Back when we had Netflix, I did watch the popular documentary, My Octopus Teacher, and absolutely loved it. Octopi are amazing creatures, and they are so smart. So when I saw this book was about a relationship between a human and an octopus, it reminded me of that docu-movie and I knew I wanted to check it out.

Also, I’ve heard that the non-fiction book, The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, is really fascinating to read. One BookTuber said that she read the non-fiction books first and then read the fiction book, which helped her enjoy the story more by having some knowledge and information about octopus. So I thought I would do the same. I’m on the wait list for the audiobook of the non-fiction book, so whenever that comes in, I’ll listen to it first, and then read the fiction book. So I actually might not get to these books until December because right now, they are saying my wait time is 6 weeks, which puts me into December. So we’ll see what happens, but I do want to read this book before the end of the year.


Well, there you have it, my fellow bookworms – all the books I’m attempting to read in November. Check back at the end of the month to see which ones I chose to read and what I thought about them.

Until next time, my book friends, happy reading!

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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