Hi everyone and welcome to halfway through March!  

Do you ever have a book that is very high on your priority list to read, yet somehow you keep forgetting about it?  That’s how I was with Ready Player Two.

I loved the first book and the movie and pre-ordered it as soon as it was available.  Yet I literally just started it yesterday – almost FOUR MONTHS since it was released.

Then a chapter in, I realized that Win by Harlan Coben was releasing today so have shelved it until I read that!  My curiosity in regard to whether Win can carry an entire book got the better of me.  I’ve now added a sticky note to my Kindle though so I don’t forget!

When Ready Player Two came out I wanted to re-read the first one, then watch the movie prior to getting started on it.  I filed it away on my Kindle and completely forgot about it until last week when my son, who had to read a book for a school assignment, asked if we owned Ready Player Two as he could read that.

Over the past few days, I re-read Ready Player One and then watched the movie on Saturday.

Ready Player One is an interesting one.  Initially, it was a cult classic and everyone loved it.  Then it became a bit too mainstream and everyone turned on it.  To this day I still see tweets and reddit/forum threads on a regular basis with people stating how much they hate the book then writing over 1,000 words just venting about it.

There are certainly valid criticisms of the book.  The dialogue is one.  Although considering the characters live in a virtual world practically 24/7 with no human interaction, we can expect conversations to be a little stilted.  I think Ernest Cline did an excellent job in regard to world-building.  Creating a dystopian broken down society with an entire virtual world within it.

He also did a great job of painting a depressing picture while keeping it light.  The state of the world he created and the human psyche and their depression obsession with the keys etc.  That whole scene in the book with Parzival describing his apartment with the blacked-out windows etc is an example of that.

The book is a lot more than “just 80s references” and it’s a shame it’s become something to hate – but that’s the way the world is.  I’ll never understand why people feel the need to spread such negativity and toxicity just because they don’t like something.  Dan Brown is another.  He’s one of those authors you can barely mention liking on a public forum without being downvoted and ridiculed for your tastes.  It’s a shame so many people are like that and just feel the need to spread the hate.  

I read another Bentley Little book – The Ignored.  This was one that was brought up on reddit a lot when people asked what his best book was.  I’ve now read 5 Bentley books and I’d have to agree – this one just beats out The Bank and The Store.

I finished Safe, by Harlan Coben which was on Netflix.  Really enjoyed it.  The usual great Coben twists.  He is one writer that is able to bring twists completely out of left field yet they still make sense in retrospect.

One new feature we will eventually be rolling out on the site or within a new book project will be the ability to rate books, track books you have read etc.  In preparation for that, I went through and created a big spreadsheet of my own personal collection covering all of that so we can then look at digitizing that.

I was dismayed to discover that of my “favourite authors” (authors whose books I blindly buy), I have over 200 books to read by them alone!  That’s not counting my spreadsheet of a book by a new author to try which currently has over 800 on it.  Yikes.  A lot of reading to do this year.  I’m going to try and stay away from new authors for a while and work on that list.  I give myself a week.

I mentioned in the last newsletter that I had to purchase a new Kindle.  I was reading on it last week and I started freaking out thinking it was broken – incredible ghosting from page to page making it completely unreadable.  If I switched to a bold font I was able to barely read it.

Turns out the reason for that is Canadian weather!  It was so cold that the new Kindle was messing up.  As soon as I brought it inside and it warmed up a bit it ended up being fine.  Tested it the next night and the same thing happened then on a slightly warmer night it didn’t happen.

I like to read in my hot tub as well.  I’ve got in the habit of going out there each night for about 60-90 minutes and just relaxing and reading.  So that’s a tad annoying.  First-world problems I know.  Just frustrating as my old Kindle never had that issue.  This one is apparently waterproof – maybe a quick dunk in the tub will sort it out!

Thanks to everyone for the feedback for the charity section and glad you all enjoy it.  A couple of people suggested I give a quick description of each charity beside it which I will do from here on forwards.  Please continue to send in any charities you wish to support.  I will rotate the list at the beginning of each month.  And just to answer one common question – charity does not have to be book related.

Each month we give away 5 prizes to 5 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:

Colleen M. from Oshawa, ON
Debbie F. from Cornwall, ON
Nanci McC from Salt Lake, Utah
Alan E. from Waddell, AZ
Dennis McC from Elk Grove, IL

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

Graeme
OrderOfBooks.com

Book Recommendations:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

This one was released in 2011. Mark e-mailed to recommend it and my wife is reading it at the moment and enjoying it a lot despite the length of the book. Mark wrote:

One of the big-name reviewers blurbed inside the front cover, “a weirdly-gripping page-turner” which hits the nail squarely on the head. From the blow-you-away first chapter to the absolutely perfect ending, this is 1,184 (!) pages of “can’t put it down”.

When there is a book I am planning to read I try not to read the description beyond the first sentence or two so it’s a bit hard to describe it here This seems like the type of book you just want to get stuck into. It’s essentially three books in one and is a very character focused book. I was looking for the best way to sum it up and saw this quote that I’ll use:

“Um, so it’s kind of a magical realism dystopia set in 1984 with parallel universes, religious cults, and a love story”.

For more details, check out our Haruki Murakami page.

Faroes series by Chris Ould

This is the series that put UK author Chris Ould on the map. While he started writing in the 80s he took a break to write for the TV show The Bill and won a BAFTA.

This one was recommended by Angela so I’ll pass it over to her:

“Your latest email has reminded me of another good ‘travel’ crime series, that I’d recommend. The 3 books by Chris Ould set in the Faroes Islands, provide a good insight into the Faroes Islands as well as having an interestingly different lead character. Jan Reyna, a UK detective who was born on the Faroes moved away from his family there to here, until he returns in the first book to ‘help’ the local police when his estranged father is killed. One of the books does cover the controversial subject of the whaling there though, so he doesn’t dodge the real issues of their different cultural traditions, probably why the books feel like a good insight to the remote Faroes Islands and their arms length relationship to Denmark. Aided obviously by a good crime story !”

I know many readers love those sort of books where they get to mentally travel to another country. Be sure to check out the Faroe series.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie is a great author who tends to focus on the YA Fantasy genre. If you’re looking for a standalone novel by Maggie to check out, The Scorpio Races is an excellent choice.

It’s about an annual challenging race where some riders live and some die as they attempt to make it to the finishing line. The story follows Puck Connolly, the first girl to ever enter the Scorpio Races.

Always enjoy this style of novel if I want to get immersed lightly in a fantasy world for awhile. Any of Maggie’s books scratch that itch but the Scorpio Races is one of the better ones.

Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series by Mike Martin

Canadian author Mike Martin crafts this series. He started it in 2012 and there are currently 9 books in the series.

The first book in the series is The Walker on the Cape. The story begins when a man’s body is found on the Cape in a small fishing community. It looks to be a heart attack or a stroke, but the investigation leads to the news that the man was actually poisoned.

To find out why, the RCMP assigns Sergeant Winston Windflower and his sidekick Eddie Tizzard are assigned the case. The two soon find that this small community has a lot of secrets and there are powerful people who want to keep them hidden. Despite that, Windflower also discovers something else he wasn’t expecting: he loves it here on the East Coast.

Chase Fulton Series by Cap Daniels

This is a very popular series which can be hard to keep up with as there are 4-5 new books released each year! Not that I’m complaining – it’s refreshing to get into a series like that. Shoutout to Lou for recommending this series.

The Opening Chase is the first book in the Chase Fulton series and immediately sees Chase stepping up to be a hero. The book begins with Chase as a star baseball player with a bright future but sees that future dashed by a freak injury. He is then recruited into quasi-governmental covert operations where he is trained as an assassin. Set into the field, Chase is in the Caribbean where he is being pursued by a beautiful Russian SVR officer who will kill to find out what she wants. Chase is about to learn fast how deadly international espionage can be when love is involved.

MARCH 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!

USA: Operation Paperback (Collect used books, send to troops overseas)
UK: Better World Books (Book donations that support education initiatives)
Canada: Children’s Book Centre (Books go towards young kids)
Australia: SP Foundation (Towards the support of PLS & HSP)

What Are You Reading?

I asked readers on our Facebook page a nice and simple question this month. What are you currently reading? Here are the responses:

Random Top 10 of the Month

10 Most Trending Authors in February:

Big thanks to my friend Vin for diving into my analytics data and being able to figure out how to pull this sort of information. This is a list of all authors who have seen the biggest percentage increases on their page in February compared to the prior month.

  1. Sarah Pinborough (Behind Her Eyes the reason no doubt)
  2. Kiley Reid (Author of Such a Fun Age)
  3. Veronica Chambers (Author of very diverse profile of books)
  4. Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Author of the Mycroft series)
  5. Aaron Starmer (Young adult novels)
  6. Aaron Zenz (Children’s author)
  7. D.V. Berkom (Author of the Leine Basso series)
  8. David Freed (Author of the fun Cordell Logan series)
  9. Julie Clark (Author of The Last Flight – loved that book!)
  10. Kate Elizabeth Russell (Let’s cover her in New Author Spotlight!)

New Author Spotlight: Kate Elizabeth Russell

Kate Elizabeth Russell is an American author who made her debut in 2020 with the release of My Dark Vanessa. That book made many “most anticipated” lists and was an instant New York Times bestseller, and translated into multiple languages for release.

Kate is originally from eastern Maine before she left home to attend college at Indiana University. She earned her MFA while studying there and then headed on to the University of Kansas where she earned her PhD.

Kate currently has the one novel. My Dark Vanessa is the story of the relationship dynamics of a precocious teenager and her manipulative teacher.

The story begins in the year 2000 when a bright, ambitious fifteen-year-old named Vanessa becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her charming forty-two-year-old English teacher.

The story then picks up in 2017 when a reckoning against powerful men and the things they do to young women is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student and now that former student is reaching out to Vanessa. She now finds herself facing an impossible choice: she can remain silent and stick with her belief that she willingly engaged in the relationship as a teenager, or she can redefine herself and the events of her past. Vanessa really does consider Jacob to be her first love and gives him credit for transforming her and he has been a persistent presence in her life ever since so she has issues just rejecting him. However, the truth is that this man may be far different than what she believes and the truth isn’t as fond of a memory as she’s always maintained.

For more details, visit our Kate Elizabeth Russell page.

Reader Mailbag:

Last month I asked what is the most unusual or interesting environment created by an author that really surprised and engaged you.

The replies are later in the newsletter.

This month I am asking:

What was the Last Book You Couldn’t Put Down?

(Not sure who the creator of that image is unfortunately but I love it if anyone knows let me know so I can give credit. One of our readers sent it in.)

I’ve asked this question before and it’s always fun seeing the responses. Also gives me a lot to add to the “to read” list.

I was also inspired by the John Marrs book I just finished, The Minders.

Like I said in the beginning of the newsletter – I wrote off my entire evening last night to sit and read it for 3 hours until I finished it. I sat down to work on the newsletter but the book kept popping into my head. I finally decided to wait until today to do the newsletter, and read it instead. I even stayed up past my regular bedtime just to finish it!

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. Five people will also randomly win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.

Order of Books » Newsletter » March 2021 Mid-Month Newsletter

One Response to “March 2021 Mid-Month Newsletter”

  1. Joseph Brown: 4 months ago

    What am I reading this month?
    The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stefano Mancuso
    Fateful Mornings by Tom Bouman
    Breakers by Nick Petrie

    Reply

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