Hi all and welcome to October!

September wasn’t a great month for reading for me as I only read about 8 books.  I usually hit at least double figures.

That was primarily due to the weather still being nice here but knowing the patios will soon be closed so wanting to take advantage of the “patio weather” with my wife as much as we could.

My kids also talked me into watching Stranger Things and so a lot of nights were spent watching that.  Must admit I didn’t think it was my cup of tea but I am really enjoying the show.

One of the highlights of my month however was reading the Forward Collection.  It’s 6 short stories compiled by Blake Crouch and sold individually.  It’s sci-fi stories dealing with futuristic scenarios.  The authors are Crouch, N.K. Jemisin, Paul Tremblay, Veronica Roth, Andy Weir and Amor Towles.

Of the 6 I felt Crouch and Towles were the best two however they are all worth reading.  One deals with a video game character AI that starts making its own decisions.  Another is about a fertility lab where you can practically choose the career path of your future child.  Another is about an explorer returning to Earth many years later to see what it looks like after the climate killed it to see what it looks like.

Highly recommended and I read all of them thanks to Kindle Unlimited.  Check them out and let me know what ones you liked or didn’t like.

I might be a bit slow to respond to e-mails as I am flying to Washington, DC later today and am not taking my laptop with me.  Heading off to watch the first ever All Elite Wrestling TV show.  If you’re a Nielsen family, be sure to watch it!

I read The Escape Room by Megan Goldin which received a lot of buzz upon release.  I thought it was a pretty solid thriller.  Not the next “Gone Girl” or whatever but still good enough that I’ll read her next book.

Has there ever been a book that in theory you should love, yet you just don’t enjoy it at all?  I had that with The Terminal Man by Jack Carr.  Received lots of recommendations from readers about that one.

It generally checks all the boxes for me.  It’s about a “badass military man” who is out for revenge for some dastardly deeds conducted against his unit and then his family.  He has what is essentially a hit list of people involved and goes out with the goal of killing them in various ways – such as sniping one.

This is the type of thing I usually love but the book didn’t connect with me at all.  It wasn’t like it was a bad book or anything either – not sure why I wasn’t hooked by it but it was a struggle to finish.

I read a fun discussion online the other day on “best horror books by people other than Stephen King”.  It showed how little people read when the majority of posts were people saying they only read King.  Personally I like Jack Ketchum – I’m Not Sam is a short story I still can’t shake years after reading it.

Perhaps we could make that a theme for next months recommendation section with Halloween just past – your favourite horror books!  If you can add descriptions or reasons as to why that is appreciated too!  Just hit reply.

Reading the thread did get me to go back and read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.  If you’ve never read it be sure to – it’s just a few pages long but excellent.  Something everyone should read.

This months “Picture of the Month” gave me a good chuckle.  Be sure to check that one out below!

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 Pat from Sacramento, CA and Tracey from Meriden, CT.   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!

The Killer Inside by Cass Green

If you are a fan of standalone thrillers, you need to read Cass Green. This is her fourth one and they have all been excellent reads. This was a “stay up all night” book for me.

The official description of the book is very vague I assume on purpose. So head to her page then click through to see the description. Click Here.

Bernard Lee DeLeo
A reader e-mailed to say that I never mention the author Bernard Lee Deleo – so here you go Gary 🙂

Bernard writes in a wide variety of genres including detective fiction, paranormal, fantasy and adventure novels.

The two series in particular I would recommend are the John Harding series and the Nick McCarty Assassin series. Some of the books in the series including the debut books of each series are available on Kindle Unlimited too. Check out DeLeo.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

This one has been recommended to me before and Sandie e-mailed in the following:

I have recently read what I think is the very best book I’ve ever read. It’s title is Beneath A Scarlett Sky and the author is Mark T. Sullivan.

It is written in the form of a novel but is a true story of one young man’s bravery and sacrifice during World War II in Italy.

I obviously don’t know if you have read it and you may have done and maybe not been impressed or maybe I just missed it in your monthly email. But if you haven’t, give it a try. I feel sure you would not hesitate to recommend it to your followers.

Always appreciate it when people e-mail me with recommendations and provide a description, and/or their reasons for enjoying the book. Feel free to do that as it makes my job easier! Now go check out the best book Sandie has ever read.

Jonathan Graves series by John Gilstrap
Really any books by Gilstrap are great but the Graves series is very enjoyable.

The first book in the series is No Mercy. Graves is a covert rescue specialist and when an Indiana college student is abducted, Graves and his team unravel a deadly scheme being covered up by the government. Excellent thrillers.

A reader called Helen e-mailed me to say that she went to a book signing for Gilstrap recently, and was surprised to see that almost the entire room was female. That it was cool to see “books for men” being enjoyed by so many women too. I always enjoy hearing of stereotypes like that being broken. Be sure to check out the Graves series!

Tahoe/Owen McKenna by Todd Borg
Had a few people randomly write in to tell me to recommend the Tahoe/Owen McKenna series by Todd Borg last month, so here you are! Todd lives in the area and it gives him the inspiration for the books.

In Tahoe Death Fall (book 1 of the Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller series), a six year-old girl has been murdred on a rock slide in Lake Tahoe. Owen McKenna and his dog, Spot, must find out who the murderer is and bring him to justice before the girl’s twin suffers a similar tragic end.

JM added: “I’ve never seen any “salty” language in his books and I know that matters to some people. And the setting of Lake Tahoe and that area is fabulous – makes me want to go, any time of the year!”

Book of the Month:

Blue Moon by Lee Child

Whether you’re sick of him or not – if a Reacher book is coming out, you can be darned sure it’s going to be our book of the month!

The Reacher series is our most popular series by far.  While I struggled to finish a few books in the series over the last couple of years, I feel Lee Child has recaptured the magic recently.  Past Tense immediately went into my “Top 5 Reacher Novels” list.

In the latest book all Jack Reacher does is get off a bus to help an old couple.  Suddenly he is in the middle of a brutal and deadly turf war between rival Albanian and Ukranian gangs.  Yep – sounds like a Reacher book to me!

Pre-Order Now.

More Notable Books Being Released in October:

I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll (Standalone Thriller)
The Guardians by John Grisham
The Night Fire by Michael Connelly (Ballard / Bosch)
Bloody Genius by John Sandford (Virgil Flowers)
The 19th Christmas by James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club)
The Deserter by Nelson DeMille & Alex DeMille
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie (Kincaid/James)
Stealth by Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington)
The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

New Author Spotlight: Richard Wake

This month we feature the author Richard Wake, as submitted by Karen B. Thanks Karen!

Richard Wakes writes the Alex Kovacs series with 4 books in the series out so far.

The first book is called Vienna at Nightfall in this historical espionage thriller series. It takes place in the late 1930s in Europe. Inside and outside of Austria, the Nazis are marching.

Alex Kovacs can see what’s coming as can everyone else and the question is – can he make a difference?

Sounds like an interesting series. If you try it out be sure to let me know your thoughts!

For more details on this author and book, click here.

Each month we feature one new author as recommended by you, the readers. If you have suggestions for an author to feature in this section, please reply or e-mail site@orderofbooks.com. Only rule is that their first book can’t be more than 18 months old. (Although we may make exceptions!)

Audiobook Arena:

Written by Andy F. (Thanks so much Andy, truly appreciate this!)

Migrating Off CDs… aka Whadaya MEAN I can’t get a CD player in my new car?

To say my wife and I are invested in audio books is like saying the Mona Lisa is a cute little painting – we’ve got a huge library.  It’s painful, of course, any time you’re heavily invested in a technology that becomes obsolete and that’s what’s happened here.  This hit rather close to home when both my wife and I had to replace our older vehicles recently.  We tried many options and would like to share our findings here.

Auto manufacturer options are few to non-existent.  There are a few models where you can place a CD changer in the trunk or glove box, but these are expensive, rare, and inconvenient.  Aftermarket options are expensive, often due to the proprietary “entertainment systems” installed in most vehicles today.  The days of swapping out in-dash cassette stereo systems with ease are long gone.

There is an after market CD drive the manufacturer claims will connect ‘seamlessly’ via a USB port in your car.  We found the price point good and reviews showed that some folks have had luck with it, but reading the comments from buyers told us it wouldn’t work with some cars (software conflict apparently), including the model my wife has.  In addition, the CD drive must be kept flat and level and there don’t seem to be many cars with flat surfaces any more.

External CD drives (like the old CD Walkman by Sony) may be an option, but only if your vehicle has an AUX (auxiliary) audio input (these are disappearing as well).  Not to mention the option of an external power connection to somewhere in the car (can you say “cord tangle”?), or invest in a case of batteries.  Not as convenient, but it may work well for some.

The option on which we finally took means converting our CDs to MP3 and using the Bluetooth option (such as a smart phone).  For those not familiar with the abbreviation, MP3 is the most popular digital file format for music and the spoken word.  I was fortunate enough to already have converted hundreds of titles off of audio cassette and vinyl (LPs), so I had the experience to handle the project.  While there are a LOT of different ways to accomplish this, I’m PC based (vs Macintosh/Apple), so you might need to tweak my procedure for your particular set up if you go this route.  

In short you need three things to accomplish this:  a computer with a CD drive (and room to store the files you create), software to convert (called “ripping”), and room on your phone for the files.  Oh yea, and time to do it.  While the actual time you’re putting hands on the computer is brief, each CD can take 10 minutes or more to rip depending on the speed of your CD drive and computer.

In our case we have a couple of old laptops.  The computer you use doesn’t have to be modern nor fast, though you probably don’t want to be doing anything else on the computer while the files are ripped because if the computer is “too busy” this will introduce irritating breaks in the narrative or even “garble” it in places.  I rip them while either watching TV or working/playing on another computer.

For software there are literally dozens of options, but my favorite is “Audiograbber”.  It’s freeware, which means the development time and talent was donated so it costs nothing.  If you like it you’re welcome to make a donation, which is a good idea since you’re supporting both talent and generosity.  I won’t go into the details on how to use it here, it really is easy and there are plenty of online help to get you over any bumps.

Lastly, you need to be able to copy the files to your phone.  I’ve found most of the time a single CD will take about 50 to 70 MB (megabytes) depending on the quality of the conversion (the higher the quality, the larger the file).  Again, check online for what folks suggest – in my case I left it at the default bit-rate of 96 and have been very happy with the results.

If your vehicle doesn’t have Bluetooth but does have a functional FM radio, you can get a device called a Bluetooth FM transmitter.  It plugs into your power outlet (what we used to call the ‘cigarette lighter’), connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and re-transmits the signal to your FM radio so you can listen to your Bluetooth device over your car speakers.  There are pros and cons with this, but for about $15+ for the device it seems to work – so long as your car has a round power outlet.

Another option instead of Bluetooth, is to use a USB stick in your car instead of a Bluetooth enabled device like your phone.  Remember, not all USB ports are equal – some are simple charge ports, while others are data/charge and only the data ports will allow you to play the files on your car.  It’s important to remember some car entertainment systems have limitations on the number of files they can handle, so if the USB stick doesn’t work or has strange issues playing, try reducing the number of files on the stick.

Oh, and unlike those who have enjoyed the recent resurgence in vinyl, I rather doubt CDs will make a comeback.  So look to the positive – whatever option you choose, you’ll soon be carried away on your favorite adventures while enjoying a nice new vehicle!

(Norma had some replies last month that I sent to her after her column.  Here are the replies then Normas replies to them)

Jan: To Norma, re listening to audio books.  I too am a big, big fan of audio books.  An avid reader most of my life, when I discovered audio books it was at my local library, and I have gone through the cassette stage, the CD stage, all using the portable players when not actually listening while driving.  Then I discovered the ease and convenience of the Mp3 players.  I no longer have to actally go to the local library to check out or borrow books, where the supply of CDs is limited to what they physically have on hand anyway, I can simple go online and down load books from the State Public Library.  I am almost never without my earphones and play throughout the day.  It is so small and easy to carry on your person you will forget where you have it.  I can “read” while I am doing chores both inside and outside the house.  You can plug the player in while driving and listen through your car’s speakers while you are charging the player.  You can recommend books that your State Library doesn’t have, and if/when they purchase them they will notify you.  New releases in audio form by really poplar authors are of course in great demand, and you can request to be place on a hold list so you can check it out when you are first up on the list.  There are books of all genre available the same as you will find in any public library.  I also understand there are sites where you can pay for the digital books, but I have yet to go through all the ones available for free.  Hope this helps you continue to listen while on your trips.  If you like listening to audio books you can’t grow wrong with an Mp3 player.  I use a Sony digital player which I recommend both for ease of use and durability. 

Randie: My car has an “accessory port” in the lower front panel. At first glance, it looks like a cigarette lighter. I bought an adapter for my iPod so that I could plug it in there, and listen to audio books through the car’s speakers, while driving to and from work (an hour each way). Went through many, many books before I retired.

And here is Normas reply to these emails:

Norma: Graeme, don’t know if my reply will go to the ones who replied?  Or?
Oh My Gosh!!!!!  Didn’t expect replies…so fun!    And thank you!
I think I will now keep our trucks Forever as they still both have CD players in them….We’re not techies so we would have to go into a tech store and have their employees show us Mp3 players, the Sony digital player, iPods…….there’re a caboodle of folk out there who use them but for us; oh well!
I do like the fact there’re options open to us that when/if we get vehicles w/o players…..
Whilst in the house, we can stick an audio book into any of our CD players and listen away, crank up the volume.  We live in Canada by the way, but our local library has the same offerings as your State Public Library.
Keep going on the audio books!  I have just picked one out of our stack of yet-to-be-listened-to for this wkend when we have the 3-hr drive to Victoria to play with gr’kids…who could teach us all we need about Mp3 players and iPods.
We’ll listen to Sue Grafton’s P is for Peril.  Have read all her books of course and so sad she has died.
Thanks for the replies. 

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:

Reader Mailbag:

Click here

Order of Books » Newsletter » October 2019 Newsletter

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