Hi everyone and welcome to January and 2024!


It has been quite the incredible year.  It was one year ago today exactly that I launched my biggest project to date, Book Notification.


The growth of that project in the last year has been incredible.  From 11,000 authors listed to over 35,000 (compared to 4900 at OOB).  Seeing tens of thousands of people sign up and using it and witnessing more and more signing up every day.


Even better than that – actually getting to use it myself as a book lover.  I was never a fan of Goodreads, and although I tried many alternatives, I wasn’t happy with their interface or just found most of their listings junk (as most of them just pull in data from Goodreads).


So being able to access nice and clean audited lists of authors, track my books read, rate books etc. on my own site has been really nice.  And that “What’s Next” feature we added a few months ago has been great – it was fun looking back at book series that I had stopped reading over the years for whatever reason, and picking some of them up again.


Book Notification has led to an incredible amount of work for me this year, but it’s all worth it when I get e-mails from people just sending their appreciation for it.  Always love getting those sort of e-mails.


If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Book Notification.  A highly requested feature may just make it to the site very soon!


One thing I never got to this year in relation to that was the whole Reading Challenge section.  I’ve never been big into reading challenges myself, so it’s one of those things where I really need to sit down and learn more about them, understand why people enjoy them so much etc., and then try and cater to a wide variety of different people.


That will be on the agenda for this year for sure.  One of our readers, Patti, let me know about a reading challenge she is doing as part of the 52 Book Club Challenge.  It’s a really neat idea, with challenges such as books with a Typographic Cover, or a book title starting with G, or a book with the time in the title.


I love that sort of thing and I can see how it would appeal to people.  Be sure to check out that challenge if it interests you.


I read The Secret by Lee Child and Andrew Child, the newest Jack Reacher novel. This is the 4th novel written with Andrew, and the first one where I have REALLY noticed his influence.  


 I read a couple of his novels in the David Trevellyan series a couple of years ago.  While I loved the first one, I could barely finish the second one.


I like to describe it as if you think of Reacher as Superman, then that character was Superman on steroids.  Just completely over the top to a ridiculous degree.  Which was a shame, as based on the first novel he had really good storytelling abilities.


Overall I enjoyed The Secret, but I did have my concerns.  I just felt there were many parts of it that were just a tad more ludicrous than usual.  I also felt the two female villains in the series were very similar to Reacher in how they were written, and it was weird seeing the same “voice” for different characters.


Definitely the weakest of the 4 by Andrew so far and my concern is we’re going to see things get even more ridiculous similar to that second Trevellyan book.  Hopefully not, as I’ve enjoyed the other three.


I randomly got motivated to go through my Kindle Unlimited list.  You can have a maximum of 20 books out on that at any time, and it bothers me when I stumble upon a book I want to read which is on KU, go to get it out only to be told I am at my max, and need to remove a book.


Plus my daughter got a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas.  Although she loves physical books that much more (and got about 20 for Christmas!), she’s already found a few books from her TBR that are on Kindle Unlimited, so I need to clear some space for her.


So I decided to try and go through all 20.  I started off with The Locked Door by Freida McFadden.  Tremendous standalone thriller, and based on my ratings over at Book Notification, her 2nd best after Never Lie.  I read most of this on a 2.5 hour train ride.  Came home, brewed a pot of tea and read the remaining 30%.  Great book.


Next I started to read The Import by J.T. Baier.  I’m going to preface this by saying this book gets great reviews online.  It has a 4.33 review on Goodreads and a 4.5 book for Amazon, but it wasn’t for me and I DNF’d it.


It’s a book styled after Jack Reacher.  Matthew Riker has a mysterious history which makes him a real bad-ass.  A woman and small child are being chased by gun-toting men and Riker takes them down.  This leads Riker into looking after the woman and kid, while bad guys galore are following them around the country.


If you like Orphan X, Victor the Assassin etc, then give this book a try.  For me it felt like all action, no substance, and I just didn’t think the writing was that compelling .  I made it through 50% of the book before deciding to giving up.  


Numerous spelling errors in the book didn’t help either.  There was a section where they were being chased by a BMW, and I think at least 75% of the time it was spelled “BWM” instead.  Anyway like I said it gets great reviews and if you enjoy that genre – as I do – be sure to check it out, but I couldn’t finish it.


I next read In Lieu of You by Keith A. Pearson.  Keith writes books related to time travel.  This book is about a man who is about to divorce his wife, and she is going to take half his business.  He gets the opportunity to go back in time to stop himself from ever meeting her.  Unfortunately, he messes with things a bit too much and the present he returns to isn’t exactly what he envisioned.


I thought this was a superb book and I really liked where it went.  The first 30% of the book felt like similar books I have read by Keith but then it took its own path.  If you’re a fan of these sort of stories be sure to check Keith out.  I’d highly recommend The ’86 Fix series, and Tuned Out by him as well.  


I attempted to read Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.  This was recently adapted into a movie and I had a lot of people asking me if I had watched the movie, or recommending it.  As it’s based on a book, I decided to read the book first.

Well, I tried.  Look – this is a highly acclaimed book and on many “Best Book of the Year” lists.  If you’ve read it and loved it then more power to ya.  The “prose” just seemed like utter nonsense to me.  This is how the book opens:


“Roads merged into one another. The traffic congealed. Their gray car was a bell jar, a microclimate: air-conditioning, the funk of adolescence (sweat, feet, sebum), Amanda’s French shampoo, the rustle of debris, for there always was that. The car was Clay’s domain, and he was lax enough that it accrued the talus of oats from granola bars bought in bulk, the unexplained tube sock, a subscription insert from the New Yorker, a twisted tissue, ossified with snot, that wisp of white plastic peeled from the back of a Band-Aid who knew when. Kids were always needing a Band-Aid, pink skin splitting like summer fruit.”


Then we got into the descriptions of the characters.


Archie was fifteen. He wore misshapen sneakers the size of bread loaves. There was a scent of milk about him, as there was to young babies, and beneath that, sweat and hormone. To mitigate all this Archie sprayed a chemical into the thatch under his arms, a smell unlike any in nature, a focus group’s consensus of the masculine ideal. Rose paid better attention. The shadow of a young girl in flower; a bloodhound might find the metal beneath the whiff of entry-level cosmetics, the pubescent predilection for fake apples and cherries. 


At that point, I gave up.  A rare one where I’ll just watch the adaptation instead.  I’m not knocking that sort of writing at all, but it’s just not for me.  


Unfortunately, at this point in the month I got pretty darn sick.  Quite a few bugs going around, and I got nailed with a couple of them.  One was so bad that I had a high fever and was actually hallucinating.  Ranting to my wife “not to delete any Christmas movies because we have space for all of them” and “The answer to the last trivia question is Miller.  That’s the beer I last drank and that is the trivia question answer!”.  I haven’t had a Miller in years.


When sick, for some reason reading doesn’t appeal to me.  Not sure why that is but I usually end up on the couch just binging on old sitcoms.  I tried to listen to an audiobook but quickly went back to rewatching Becker.


The illness is still lingering a bit but I’m on the mend, and have finished off the month by reading The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni.  It’s funny – I come across so many books while working on the book sites which get added to my TBR list.  But every so often, I stumble upon one book that I just have to drop EVERYTHING to read.


This is the story of Mike Brink, who has a rare medical condition which gives him mental superpowers – the ability to solve any puzzles, and the ability to remember anything at will etc.  He is brought to a prison to meet Jess Price, a woman who murdered her boyfriend and hasn’t said a word to anyone while in there.


She then presents him with a very perplexing puzzle which appears to be missing some pieces so he can’t solve it.  Unfortunately, that is just the beginning.  People are watching her in the prison and monitoring her, and she provides a message letting Mike know that her last therapist got too close to the truth and was killed.


I’m about 70% of the way through the book and enjoying it so far.  I’m not really one to get scared by books, but there were a few chapters around the 30% mark that I sort of wished I wasn’t reading at 2am in the dark!


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:

Santiago from Kissimmee, FL (email begins with pe)

Beverley from Winnipeg, MB (email begins with bev74)

Joe C. from Birmingham, MI (email begins with joecon)

Celia from Beaumont, CA (email begins with catap)

Cindy C. from Toronto, ON (email begins with cindy.cra)



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

Quotes of the Month:

“My life without books would be like my life without clothes—naked. Like everyone else, I know that books warm up a room, but they do much more than that. They warm up the soul.”
“It occurred to me that he was a very good Person, this Boros.  And it was a good thing he had his Ailments.  Being healthy is an insecure state and does not bode well.  It’s better to be ill in a quiet way, then at least we know what we’re going to die of.”
 – From Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

“Nice library. Is one of these a trick book?”
“How so?
“Like you pull it off the shelf and a hidden door opens.”
“Oh. Yeah, all of them.”

 – From @ASmallFiction on X


Submit your own quotes; just hit reply.  Book-related is great but happy to share non-book related too!  Thanks to Jeannine, Dawn and Donna for this month’s submissions.  Love seeing quotes from books!


Book Recommendations

In this section, I give 3-5 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 me 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!  

Recommended by Keith.  Here is what he sent in:


“I recently finished listening to Jon Lindstrom’s performance of “The Handler” by M. P. Woodward.  I was so impressed that I immediately borrowed “Dead Drop”, again performed by Mr. Lindstrom. I was surprised that this was Michael’s first published book – a nice tight plot, believable characters and realistic action. Highly recommended if you want a modern spy thriller!”  


“I then listened to “Dead Drop”, the second book in the series. It was a continuation of the story in “The Handler”. with the same characters, set a year or so later. The plot resonated with the on-going Israel-Hamas-Iran-Lebanon war and gave some insight into the mentality of various players in the Middle-East milieu. The story was based on a realistic threat to stability in the region and the characters’ reactions to that threat were reasonable. Overall, a very solid effort – but it lacked a little of the spark that made the first book so interesting.  The ending left open some threads that would allow continuation of the series, so I hope there are future installments in progress.”

This is a series that has been recommended a couple of times before, but always happy to recommend it at least once a year.  Peggy wrote in to recommend this one, saying:


“I wanted to recommend The Chronicles of  St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. They are a series in a true sense of the word. While perhaps they could be read out of order, each one does build on the one before. To quote the publisher’s description: “The stories of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel!” Wonderful characters have fun adventures in time (and mess up a lot). In its way, it’s also educational since they investigate actual events. If you haven’t read any of these, I highly recommend them!”


A much-loved seried by OOB readers.  If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.

This is a mailbag submission by Janice and I wanted to add it in here too.  Here is what Janice wrote:


“The book I read this year that lingers in my mind:
Prophet Song by Paul Lynch, who  just won the Booker Prize. If anyone wonders what a  fascist takeover of a free country might look, this is far more convincing than 1984. In the US at least, this isn’t a hypothetical issue—though Lynch’s novel is set in Dublin. The unfolding events are experienced through members of a single family and their neighbors. Orwell’s classic is a political fable rather than a novel, but Lynch grounds his warning in his very convincing characters, who struggle with confusion, denial, despair, resistance, and more—a range of responses as their nation gradually breaks into a civil war. Not to be missed! ”


See our Paul Lynch page.

kat wrote in to recommend this one.


Gone Tonight is a domestic thriller.  Ruth Sterling is a pregnant teenager who escapes from her abusive home and boyfriend one night.  


She has lived quietly for over 20 years although is always ready to run at a moments notice.  Her daughter has grown, and is about to move to Baltimore to work as a nurse when it appears her mother has alzheimers disease.   Her daughter cancels her plans, but as she digs around she realizes her mother has quite a few dark secrets – but she has some of her own too.


A note that a lot of reviews state that it has a slow start, but picks up around the 30% mark.  

Recommended by Star Marie, who wrote:


“A great tale of adventure living on a boat and exploring  an uninhabited island, plus the joys of getting away from it all, until problems arise.”


I love those books where the actual book description has you wanting to read it right away.  This is word for word the opening description for Deep Water:


“When a Navy vessel comes across a yacht in distress in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, Captain Danial Tengku orders his ship to rush to its aid. On board the yacht is a British couple: a horribly injured man, Jake, and his traumatized wife, Virginie, who breathlessly confesses, “It’s all my fault. I killed them.””


That’s the only fiction book Emma has written thus far, although she has a new book coming out later this year.  See the Emma Bamford page for more.

January Book of the Month: Random in Death by J.D. Robb

The 58th book in the In Death series comes out on January 23rd, and I know many of you will be looking forward to it.  The 59th book is already scheduled for September as well!


Jenna is having a great night.  Her parents have let her go out to a club in NYC.  She’s having the time of her life with her best friends and watching a great band.  


Minutes later, the lead guitarist is out back when he sees Jenna stumbling out.  She’s sick, confused and deathly pale.  Unknown to him at the time, she’s been jabbed with a needle in the crowd which has killed her.  Jakes girlfriend arrives and they decide they have to call her friend – one Lieutenant Eve Dallas.


Pre-Order Now!

10 More Notable Books Releasing in January

January 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 or topics that you can support instead.  Feel free to support a relevant one in your own country as well.   Thanks! 
Relive (Liver Failure)

Your Thoughts:

Last month I asked what books resonated with you most in 2023. The replies are later in the newsletter.
This months question is:
What authors are there where you have read ALL their books?
There are a lot of authors I love, but I haven’t read all their books.  I love Stephen Leather, for example, but the Jack Nightingale series doesn’t appeal to me so I haven’t read all of them.
Thankfully with Book Notification, I can get a good idea of that with the whole “What’s Next” feature and the “All Caught Up” tab.  Let’s see:
Alex Berenson
Lee Child
Harlan Coben
Suzanne Collins
Michael Connelly
Mason Cross
Duncan Falconer
Joseph Finder
Vince Flynn
Megan Goldin
Shari Lapena
B.A. Paris
Peter Swanson
Irvine Welsh
There are a few more that come close.  I’ve read every Mark Greaney book except his novels in the Jack Ryan universe for example.   
What about you?  What authors out there have you exhausted their reading list?
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 month’s newsletter.  Five people will also randomly win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.

Reader Mailbag:

Order of Books » Newsletter » January 2024 Newsletter

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