Hi everyone and welcome to December.

Although I love Christmas and this time of the year, there are always elements of sadness to it. One of those revolves around books.

It’s been about 12 years now since I switched to the Kindle, and got rid of all my physical books. I used to always receive books for Christmas, and that was always a lot of fun.

I’d pick out the first book in various series that I’d be interested in trying and distribute the list to the family who would pick and choose. It was always a nice easy gift for them to purchase, and it was always fun having multiple book series to choose from on Christmas Day. Or friends would pick out books they thought I’d like, and it was always fun to receive them.

Giving is always better than receiving though, and luckily I’ve got quite a few friends who only read physical books. Looking forward to hopefully introducing them to a good few book series or standalone novels this month!

I spent most of November getting caught up on Michael Connelly, and am happy to say he is now on my “read everything by them” list. The Law of Innocence wasn’t his best work. The book took place from November 2019 through March of 2020 and COVID slowly worked its way into the storyline.

There was just something about it that felt shoehorned in. If you told me he wrote the book in 2018 and went back late in the editing process to add this, I’d believe you. The ending was also very underwhelming. I still enjoyed it, but probably the least enjoyable Lincoln Lawyer novel to date.

I read the most recent book in the series, The Dark Hour. This was a very tricky book to write as it was the first in the post-George Floyd world. I thought Connelly handled it very well. He was able to portray the characters’ feelings about matters without interjecting his own opinion. The story involving the dentists seemed a bit rough around the edges but overall a very good book.

Sadly it looks like we won’t be seeing Harry Bosch too much longer. He played just a bit part in this one as it was more of a Renee Ballard book – and I expect we will see Harry’s daughter in storylines going forward.

Now I’ve finished them – time to give the TV show a try! I’m actually going to start today, and try and watch at least one episode per day. We’ll see if I can stick to that or not! But there’s my December resolution!

I listened to The Summons by John Grisham. This is another one where listening to it over reading it was the best decision.

I realized early on that I had attempted this book before multiple times and gave up early. The reason is quite simple – nothing happens! I mean it – I was over 60% through the audiobook and the only thing that had really happened was the protagonist found a bunch of money, then kept renting different storage units to hide it in. That’s honestly everything that had happened by 60%.

Thankfully the narrator, Michael Beck, saved it. His Southern accent made it sound like a grandfather telling you a story. It may not have been most exciting, but it easily held my attention.

I’ve started listening to 14 by Peter Clines next. The first book in his Threshold
series. A friend recommended it to me and it features Ray Porter as narrator. I couldn’t get it at the library, but I had multiple Audible credits burning a hole in my pocket and decided to take the plunge. Really enjoying it so far!

Speaking of audiobooks – the author Alan McDermott is trying something new; uploading 30-minute segments each day of one of his audiobooks to YouTube. Give it a try at his YouTube Channel and be sure to hit subscribe. Thanks to Keith for the heads up on that.

That’s about it from me. A bit quiet on the reading front on my end. I’ve actually been playing video games more this past month in my spare time. Funny reading-related note: if it’s a game where I can rename characters, I rename them after characters in books.

So right now I’m playing a game called Phoenix Point which is a turn-based strategy team where you control a team. My team members consist of names such as Jack Reacher, Bob Lee Swagger, Mitch Rapp, Red Sparrow, and the Gray Man.

I’m obsessed.

Each month we give away 5 $25 Amazon gift certificates to random subscribers.

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:

Sara from Roswell, GA
Corinne from Winterthur, Switzerland
Vicki S. from Coral Gables, FL
Rita from Wheeling, IL
Laurel K. from Candler, NC

All of you have been e-mailed. If you don’t see anything, check your junk folder or contact me.


Quote of the Month:

“Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors.”

– By Joseph Addison

Submitted by Catherine. Submit your own quotes; just hit reply.

Book Recommendations

In this section I give 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! I should note we also have a huge backlog of recommendations so if you don’t see one that you recommended then don’t worry – it’ll show up eventually!

DC Smith Investigation Series by Peter Grainger

This was a series I recommended back in 2018 and am happy to recommend again. Jody recommended it. Here’s what she wrote:

“Peter Grainger writes detective/police mysteries that take place in modern-day Great Britain. I would like to recommend his DC Smith Investigation series and its follow-up series, King’s Lake. The books must be read in order and are so good that I have read each of them twice. ”

“Grainger’s writing is intelligent and thoughtful, with relatable characters. The books are likely to appeal to Louise Penny readers who may enjoy the general type of novel, but not the repetitive writing style or ridiculously increasing eccentricities of her main characters.”

“This author is worth expanding one’s repertoire. In fact, I strongly urge listening because the narrator — Gildart Jackson — is beyond outstanding.”

For more details, see our Peter Grainger page.

Barker & Llewelyn Series by Will Thomas

Nora wrote in to recommend this one, saying:

“Writes historical mystery novels that are set during the Victorian era and all set in London. Wonderful stories”

The first book is Some Danger Involved which was published in 2004. Detective Cyrus Barker and assistant Thomas Llewelyn must solve the murder of a young scholar in the Jewish ghetto of London. Barker, who is both eccentric and a bit of an enigma, takes the case, but he requires an assistant. He puts an ad in the paper, noting that there is “some danger involved.”

Llewelyn is a young man with a lot of guts and a dark past who turns out to be the best fit. As they get closer to closing the case, Llewelyn becomes more and more interested with Barker’s style of detective work as well as the underworld of Victoria-era London.

The Cat Who… Series by Lillian Jackson Braun

An infamous cozy mystery series, and one that I was surprised to see I haven’t recommended before.

It’s made many mid-month newsletter lists as it is very popular among our readers so if you haven’t read it – give it a try.

Lil wrote in to recommend it after the cozy mystery recommendations in the mid-month newsletter. “On cozy mysteries: I was surprised to NOT see “The Cat Who…” series by Lilian Jackson Braun on the list. That’s also my most recent reread occupation at the present time”

There were 29 books in the series, as well as a few short story collections.

Sunshine Vicram Series by Darynda Jones

Sandy wrote in to recommend the first book in this series, A Bad Day for Sunshine. Sandy is a librarian and she said “I loved it!!!” – good enough for me!

it was released last year and there is now a sequel out, with a third expected in December 2022.

The first book is described as sassy, snarky, and a lot of fun! Sunshine is an independent, tough, and very likable protagonist. She has returned to her hometown after many years away as sheriff of the town. On her first day, there is a kidnapping case that resembles her own from years prior.

Visit our Darynda Jones page for more details.

In The Red by Christopher Swiedler

Do you have kids or grandkids to shop for this Christmas, and aren’t sure what to get? Katy has recommended this one – twice actually – and it sounds like a great gift.

Here’s what she said: “To get youngsters reading I suggest a great suspenseful book called, In the Red, by Christopher Swiedler. It’s an intense adventure on Mars – life and possible death experiences. I found it a real page-turner, and (I may sound sexist), but think young boys would especially find riveting.”

“A book that is essentially written for 8-12 year-olds that I (a 76 year-old) found fascinating and a real page-turner is, In the Red, by Christopher Swiedler. It concerns two ten-year olds (a boy and a girl) lost on Mars. Lots of ‘real’ scientific information, and fearful adventures. May be a bit intense for some 8 year olds, but a good read! Think parents would enjoy reading about their perils it as much as kids.”

Visit our Christopher Swiedler page for more information. Honestly, it’s a book I think I am going to buy for my kids just so I can read it myself!

December 2021 Book Of The Month (1st-15th)

The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan

You likely know Allison from her Lucy Kincaid series, but she has written a few great standalone novels recently and has another one coming out this month.

The Sorority Game is a crime thriller along the same lines as Karin Slaughter. Three years ago, a girl left a sorority party and her body was found two weeks later. The police never solved the case.

Lucas Vega finds some interesting information while working as an intern at the medical examiner’s office and decides to start a podcast exploring the case.

I’m a big fan of the usage of podcasts in books these days, and this sounds like a good one. Visit our Allison Brennan page to pre-order.

10 More Notable Books Releasing Dec 1-15

December Charities

While I appreciate all offers of donations to show your appreciation for the site and newsletter, I’d much rather you do that by supporting some great causes. Each month I pick a few select charities broken down by our most popular countries that you can support instead. Thanks! And please note you’re not restricted to the country you reside in of course – pick any you wish to support!

USA: Toys for Tots
UK: Booktrust Christmas Appeal
Canada: Santas Anonymous
Australia: The Smith Family

I rotate this list each month. Feel free to suggest a favourite charity – hit reply.

Audiobook Arena

By Ila

My recommendations for narrators and some authors I never miss:

1) Ray Porter reading Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger 20 books in series:
Patient Zero is the first one and this is what grabbed me:

“When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills – and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills.”

2) Edoardo Ballerini reading Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett series which begins with Speaks the Nightbird.  There are currently 7 books in the series and a new one will be released very soon with one more to follow which will be the final one.

An annual read for many of McCammon fans is Boy’s Life, myself included.

What do superheroes do when they have to retire?  After all even they age.  The Ex-Heroes series of 5 books by Peter Cline tells their stories.

I also highly recommend his Audiobooks narrated by Ray Porter in The Threshold Series

James Lee Burke anything and everything but especially read by Will Patton:

Mr. Burke is very often described by readers as a painter of books instead of just a writer.  I will forever be grateful to the librarian who recommended that in order to fully experience the Dave Robicheaux books I needed to hear it read by Will Patton. 

My favorite books by JLB are the Holland books. I will warn you that his books don’t mince words and readers who are offended by real-life actions, language and speech should probably not read these.

Neil Gaiman is a flawless narrator. I have too many of his books to list many of which are partially read either on YouTube or his website to sample


I can’t recommend the new author S.A.Cosby enough – the S is for Shawn’s newest books either in print or Audio. 

X.E. Sands is my favorite female narrator followed closely by

Kate Shugak Mysteries By: Dana Stabenow  27 books in series
Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin

Dana also writes the Liam Campbell Series – I think there are 5 at this point.

Your Thoughts:

Last month I asked what new to you authors you discovered this past year. The replies are later in the newsletter.

We’ve had some fun going down memory lane lately so let’s continue with that:

Any Christmas related memories involving books?

One that I’ll always remember as an 8 year old in Scotland. My dad had just left us and moved to Canada about one month prior. My mum and I had to move from our house and all my friends to a bottom floor, rather gross and depressing council flat.

I was at a new school with no friends, and I went from being a single child to having a sibling, as my mum gave birth to my sister on December 15th. Never an easy task for a single child – especially with such a difference in age!

Life was not exactly the best at that time. To make it worst, I had a really bad toothache. I think it ended up being an abscess. I woke up in 3am on Christmas Day in excruciating pain and in tears.

Luckily Santa had already been, and my mum let me open my gifts early. I received three Famous Five books that I hadn’t read yet.

Thinking back – that had all the potential to be a real rotten Christmas. Yet all I remember is laying down beside the heater, tooth pain fading away, as I read each book back to back. Happy.

A great memory.

What about you? Any Christmas related book memories?

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

Reader Mailbag:

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