Hi all and welcome to December! A month I always associate with reading – sitting inside a warm house, drinking a hot chocolate and reading a book while the snow falls outside. Feels nice.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc etc to all of you out there.  Always my favourite time of year.  I make sure to watch a different Christmas movie every night with the family etc and have the Christmas music going every day of the month up until the 25th.  If you have Spotify you might be able to find my playlist on there – it’s called “Fireball Christmas Playlist” (had to name it something unique so I could easily play it on the Google Homes).

Apologies for the lateness in the newsletter. I’ll get to that in a second. First I just wanted to give out a shoutout to my friend who recently launched her new website BestBooks.net. She reads a LOT and wanted to start a website covering the best books by author and by series. I helped her a bit with starting the site. I’m hoping it takes off as she has a lot of great ideas for it down the road. Anyway it makes for some interesting reading so check it out.

So onto the newsletter and the delay. I traveled down to Boston on November 22nd. I’m a New England Patriots fan, and on my bucket list has always been to see Tom Brady live. Based on the way he is playing this year there’s a good chance this is the last season I get the opportunity to do that – so I decided to make an impromptu trip to Boston to see the Pats vs the Cowboys with a friend.

I arrived in the Friday at night and one thing I was completely unaware of was Boston had been hit with some black ice that day. I went out with my friend after arriving for a few beers and so that made me even less aware of the black ice in random spots on the sidewalk.

I became a little bit more aware however when I stepped on some and went absolutely FLYING up in the air. I landed pretty hard on the cobblestones on my arm and chest.

Worst thing was I didn’t realize how bad it was at the time. It was when I woke up the next morning in a fair bit of pain. We had also signed up to do a Freedom Trail 5k Run and I went on that. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t even swing my arm to run. Just brutal.

I sucked it up regardless though as I didn’t want to spend a portion of the trip in the hospital. So self-medicated with beer and wore a sling the entire weekend. Hit up Cheers, took in the Bruins vs Wild game and then of course the Patriots vs Cowboys game.

I think not being able to rest my arm didn’t do me any favours – I ended up being in some incredible pain when I returned. My chest especially felt like an elephant was sitting on top of me. I went to the doctors and got xrays. Thankfully nothing is broken – just a lot of “soft tissue damage” apparently all over, and some damage to my rotator cuff.

So it’s been a fun couple of weeks. I’m still in a fair bit of pain and have been trying to rest my arm when possible. Still can’t lift it up by itself without a lot of pain and may have to go to physical therapy. We’ll see how it goes. So I’ve been on the computer very little the past couple of weeks hence the delay in the newsletter.

So if this newsletter is a bit disjointed or there are mistakes you can blame it on the arm. I’ve been doing the newsletter in bits and pieces over the last week.

The worst thing about all this? I’ve been in such an amount of pain that I haven’t been able to focus on reading! I’ve had to resort to watching TV shows instead. Starting to feel a bit better though and going to make up for lost time with a lot of reading over the next few weeks.

Despite the arm injury, the trip was a lot of fun. The Patriots game wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The weather was brutal, Gillette is not going to be on my list of “top stadiums” and the over 2 hour uber ride to the game wasn’t too fun either. Glad I did it anyway though and it was something special seeing Brady live right from the 50 yard line.

I finished up the latest Jack Reacher book, Blue Moon. I thought it was very good although really fizzled out at the end.

On that note – if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone and they like Jack Reacher? Get them the first book in the Peter Ash series by Nick Petrie. I’ve recommended that series a lot for a reason.

I also read Welcome To Wherever You Are by John Marrs. This was……something. It’s about 8 separate people who show up at a hostel in Los Angeles all escaping something. I thought the first half of the book was fantastic. All the characters were interesting etc and I became invested in them. However in the second half of the book it just became completely preposterous. Such a weird book.

The big one for me was Game of Snipers by Stephen Hunter. Some of you may know the deal with Hunter – he wrote his original Bob Lee Swagger trilogy back in the 90s. It was just an incredible series of novels. Everyone wanted him to write more and he finally relented and brought back Bob Lee. Unfortunately it ended up being absolutely terrible.

Then he just kept churning them out! More Bob Lee books, and in my opinion they were just getting worse. I tried 2 or 3 more before giving up on one halfway through, and swearing off Bob Lee for life.

Doing some work last month however, I happened to read the description for his latest book, Game of Snipers, and saw a lot of positive reviews. I decided to buy it and give it another try and wow – what a pleasant surprise. I mean it wasn’t close to original trilogy but it was just an excellent book and reminded me what a great writer Hunter is. If you’re like and have sworn off the Bob Lee books, do yourself a favour and read this one. It was such a pleasant surprise.

And if you’ve never read any – treat yourself for Christmas and get yourself some Stephen Hunter books. Start with Point of Impact, then while it’s not technically a Bob Lee book, get Dirty White Boys followed by Black Light and Time to Hunt. Then you can read the Earl Swagger series, as well as his standalones (The Day Before Midnight is one of my all time favourite books). Seriously I cannot recommend the early Stephen Hunter books enough.

Each month we give away 2 prizes to 2 random subscribers of $25 each in the form of Amazon gift certificates. To win all you have to do is be a subscriber. Nothing more! When we go to hit “Publish” we take a list of all of our subscribers, throw them into a random draw and those are the winners.

Our winners this month are Priscilla from Peterborough, ON and Carol from Kent, Ohio Both of you have been e-mailed. If you don’t see anything, check your junk folder or contact me.

Book Recommendations

In this section I give 4-5 random book recommendations. They can be old books, they can be new. But either way – I recommend you read them if the type of genre they are in appeals to you. Feel free to e-mail suggestions to site@orderofbooks.com as many of the suggestions each month are from our readers. If you wish to add a description for the book around the same size as the ones below that’d be great too!

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
Tis the season and I’m sure many of you are looking to read some Christmas themed books. A Redbird Christmas is a story that takes place in a community known as Lost River, a place that it seems time has forgotten.

A lonely man who gets a bad diagnosis from his doctor moves to Lost River to celebrate what he believes is going to be his last Christmas. It’s a nice short read, and just a nice story to read on the holiday season. Details.

Both Series by Jake Needham
Rich wrote on to recommend anything by Jake Needham. Needham is an author with a big following in Asia.

Jake currently has two series on the go – the Jack Shepherd series and the Inspector Samuel Tay series. The Shepherd series takes place in Thailand and the Tay series is in Singapore.

Both series are excellent and I believe a book is planned which will be featuring both characters. Check them out.

The John Wells Series by Alex Berenson
This is one of my favourite book series and I’m contemplating going back and reading it again, so thought I would recommend it here.

If you like Rapp, Reacher, Harvath, Gray Man etc etc – you will love this series. It all starts with the award winning book The Faithful Spy. John is a CIA agent who penetrated al Qaeda and returns home with the agency unsure if they can trust him etc. I can’t recommend this series enough. If you’re looking for a gripping book series to keep you occupied during the colder months, you can’t go wrong with this great spy fiction.

Ember Books by Jeanne DuPrau
The Books of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau is one of those book series that probably came out at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong it is still a very popular series and even was made into a move starring Bill Murray, however it came out a couple of years prior to when young adult books were flying off the shelves with the debut of the Hunger Games books.

This is a quartet of books about a city where there is no light. There’s no sun or moon – no natural light at all. Just electricity which is also beginning to fail.

A very cool and different series.

December 2019 Book Of The Month

A Small Town by Thomas Perry.

Thomas Perry is an author mystery, suspense and thriller. He’s written numerous series as well as various standalones. Personally I always prefer his standalones and so I am looking forward to this one.

Releasing on December 17th, 2019 it’s about 12 inmates who pull off an audacious prison break. This results in more than a thousand convicts taking over a nearby small town and committing atrocities. They are all captured except for the 12 who pulled off the prison break.

Years later the 12 are still at large and a local cop who lost a loved one that night is called in on a mission – to track down the 12 and kill them.

Should be a thrilling book and I am hearing good things.

New Author Spotlight:

This month we are featuring Natasha Ngan. While she wrote some books a few years ago, she only really jumped into the spotlight in the last year with the debut of her YA series, Girls of Paper and Fire.

There are currently two books in the series. Natasha is a Chinese-English author who uses her diverse background to influence her writing, creating multicultural and diverse stories for teens.

Girls of Paper and Fire is the first book in the series of the same name. The book is a richly developed fantasy that focuses on Lei, a member of the Paper caste. They are the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara, but Lei has been chosen by the king. Her golden eyes and beauty have piqued the king’s interest and she is taken by the royal guards and put in a charm school. She’s being groomed for the king, but while doing so she does something forbidden – she falls in love. With a plot threatening the kingdom, Lei must decide how far she’s willing to go for revenge – and love.

Check it out.

Audiobook Arena:

Written by Nancy W

In the March 2019 newsletter, you asked readers for a list of books or book series that give a real “feel” for a location.

In reading the responses, a number of people mentioned James Lee Burke for the Dave Robicheaux series set in southern Louisiana.

I am an avid fan of audiobooks and Will Patton’s reading of Burke’s books add the tang and flavor of making me feel that Mr. Patton is Robicheaux in the flesh
and I am experiencing first hand, through his eyes, all of Louisiana, her people and places.

I wrote to James Lee Burke and congratulated him on the amazing choice of Will Patton to narrate his books. I actually received a response from one of his
daughters, sorry I can’t recall her name, but she explained that not the author, but the publishing company is responsible for choosing who will narrate audiobooks.

That fact really surprised me. I always assumed that the author made the choice.

I so agree with Sharron S. about George Guidall. I really enjoy listening to him as well.

One disadvantage in audiobooks for me and their narrators. So many times when I am searching for a new book to listen to I will actually be put-off by the sound of the

narrator’s voice. A large percentage of narrators are women and even though I am of that gender I find the timber and tone of men more soothing for the most part.

Another thing since I am writing about audiobooks, is my disappointment as to how few authors choose to publish their books in audiobook format.

I have read that it is quite a costly process, but so many more people are choosing to enjoy books in this way.

I enjoy reading books, but find that I love listening to the audiobook version even more, since I can finish so many more books by listening than reading. I also find when I read a physical book my puppy will claw her way into me for attention by pushing the book away, which of course is disruptive. Aw, the benefit of being a pet owner!

We have a lot of audiobook fans and invite book listeners to write their own column every month. Want to discuss audiobooks or a favourite narrator? Hit reply and write and we’ll feature your column in a future newsletter!

Picture of the Month:

Your Thoughts:

Last month I asked you what books or book series you have had the most success with recommending to others. Your feedback is later in the newsletter.

This month I am asking a quite fitting one for the end of the year:

What was the best book you read that was published this year?

Not the best book you read this year – but what book or books RELEASED this year were your favourites?

I’ve read a lot of good books this year. Hard to narrow it down but I would say the top five books were:

Lethal Agent by Kyle Mills: His best book yet in my opinion and a true credit to the Mitch Rapp series.

Short Range by Stephen Leather: I am rarely disappointed in any books in the “Spider” Shepherd series and Leather delivered again.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena: The evolution of Lapena over the years has been great to see and this was another thrilling book full of mystery.

Recursion by Blake Crouch: Crouch is just incredible and I wish I could discover more authors like him and Marcus Sakey.

Mission Critical by Mark Greaney: Another author who never disappoints. The Gray Man in his 8th outing was just as good as previously. Another series that I’m strongly debating going back and re-reading as they are just so good.

What about you?

E-mail us your feedback to site@OrderOfBooks.com or just reply to this e-mail, and we’ll pick the best comments and feature it in next months newsletter. Two people will also randomly win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.

Reader Mailbag:

Click here.

Order of Books » Newsletter » December 2019 Newsletter