Hi everyone and welcome to July!

A note that I currently have family visiting, and won’t be on the computer too much.

I wrote this newsletter about a week ago and updated a couple of aspects of it before sending it out.

So if you e-mail me, just note there will likely be a delay in response of at least a few days.

June was a very busy time for me, as we had a lot of crunch work to do to complete the “beta” phase of the new site, Book Notification.

I’m happy to say it was successful, and the site is no longer in beta mode. The work that has been put into that site is unbelievable. I mean the author database alone. For comparison’s sake; OrderOfBooks.com has 4,343 authors as of this writing. Book Notification has over 23,300! More than 5x as many authors.

Then all the additional features such as being able to manage your book library, get notified of new books by your favourite authors, printable lists, rate books, create a TBR list, etc. Very proud of what has been accomplished on that site so far.

This is just the beginning too. So many great ideas and features I want to add to Book Notification. Sign up if you haven’t yet!

I finished reading The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. I generally enjoyed it. For reference, I’d give The Martian Chronicles a 10/10 and this would be a 7/10 or 8/10. A few great stories in there that left me wanting more. I wrote an article on what I thought were The 5 Best Short Stories from The Illustrated Man.

Speaking of Bradbury; I read the short story The Pedestrian. It’s available online on various websites. Not sure about the legality of it all so I won’t link to it. But it’s one of my favourite short stories by him, which seems to get truer and truer each year. Thanks to Laura for reminding me of that one.

I next started reading Wool by Hugh Howey. I loved this one, although I can’t start the TV adaptation yet as my wife has started reading it, and wants to watch it together. Hopefully, get that started at some point in July. Highly recommended reading.

Shift was next and I am currently reading Dust, which are the next two books in the trilogy – but are prequels. Shift I thought started very slow, but gets going and was a great read.

I finished listening to What Have We Done by Alex Finlay. It was a standard trope of something a group of teenagers did years ago comes back to haunt them. One thing I really enjoy about Finlay is his characters aren’t cookie-cutter. There are a lot of little quirks to them that make his books stand out.

This was one of those books that I enjoyed about 90% of. I felt the ending wasn’t too great, and then it had an epilogue that unfortunately, soured me on the whole book. Disappointing overall, but it was still an enjoyable ride.

I’ve started listening to Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby. Incredible narration by Adam Lazarre-White as always. One of the best narrators there is.

Thanks to everyone last month who contributed to the fundraiser run for the Strathcarron Hospice that I am doing. It’s not until October, so it will continue to be a monthly charity in the newsletter until then. If you wish to donate, the link is here. It only gives you the option to donate in pounds but don’t worry – if you’re in the USA etc, it will still work. Just be sure to check with Google what the currency conversion is. £10 = $12.50 USD approx, for example If you run into any issues, just let me know.

It’s a small hospice in Scotland and a wonderful cause to support. Thank you.

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:

Susan P. from Auburn, NY
Donna W. from Vancouver, WA
Carol K. from Winter Park, FL
Bonnie B. from Deerfield, IL
Kathy B. from Atlanta, GA

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

Graeme

OrderOfBooks.com

Quotes of the Month

“Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.”
– Francis Bacon

“Don’t judge a book by its movie.”
– Various

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”
– Cicero

Submit your own quotes; just hit reply. Book-related is great but happy to share non-book related too! Thanks to Cathi, Christine, and Bette for this month’s submissions.

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 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!

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

Tom wrote in with this fantastic write-up on this series which I will share ad verbatim. He was replying to the reader mailbag, but it was such a wonderful write-up that I had to add it to the recommendations section.

The book I have most faithfully re-read over my adult life is The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell. It has a lot going for it:

1) beautiful writing
2) exotic setting, convincingly evoked
3) intersection with real-world history of World War Two and the Middle East (some of which echoes down to the present day)
4) fascinating structure.

It’s really the structure that keeps me coming back and makes it richer than many other books or series. The four books are each told in a different way:

Justine is first-person

Balthazar is second-person (Balthazar is a character in Justine, in this book he is writing what he calls an “interlinear” commentary on Justine)
Mountolive is third-person

All three of these books cover the same story, but each one suggests different explanations for everything that happens, and how the characters feel about it all. The “I” of Justine becomes the “you” of Balthazar and is just another character (not the main one) in Mountolive.

The fourth book is Clea which, back in the first person, extends the story forward in time, resolving or at least illuminating some of the paradoxes of the first three books.

Summarizing it like this helps me understand why I have re-read it so often, but risks making the Quartet sound confusing, or mechanical in some way. It’s not! That’s Durrell’s big achievement — the structure is not a gimmick, it lets him tell the story “in the round” in a way that a conventional novel would not allow.

I’ve read and enjoyed other books (novels, memoirs, travel books) and poetry by Lawrence Durrell, and when I was a child re-read his brother Gerald’s great book on growing up on Corfu, My Family and Other Animals. I also read Gerald’s fascinating books on his life as a wildlife collector for zoos and then the founding of a zoo for wildlife preservation. Quite the family! But The Alexandria Quartet is the book that makes me want to re-read it, knowing that each time I will enjoy it in new ways.

Thanks so much, Tom. Try out this great series now.

Citizens of London by Lynne Olsen

Another one from the mailbag, thanks to Ken. A great write-up and we never get enough non-fiction recommendations. Here is what Ken wrote:

Re: Regularly Re Reading a Book…An easy one for me…”Citizens of London,” by Lynne Olsen.

She paints a vivid picture of London during the start of WWII and the Blitz. The lives of every day people as well as the Savoy dining crowd are described as well as telling us about Edward R. Murrow and the start of the War reporting by CBS radio.

Periodically I have the opportunity to stump a few people by asking them who was the US Ambassador to England during WWII. No, it was not Joseph Kennedy! John Winant is his name and the author describes how and why FDR appointed him and brought back Kennedy.

Olsen also writes that Winant was an advocate for Churchill and England (unlike Kennedy,) and often took to the streets to help in rescue and recovery operations after bombing raids by Germany. I must stop now and pick up the book for my yearly re-read…

If you haven’t yet, check it out now.

Like Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepety

Star Marie wrote in to recommend this author in general, and then mentioned this book. Here is what they wrote:

Have an author that I really enjoy, it’s historical fiction, well almost.  Ruta Sepetys travels to Lithuania to meet survivors of WWII and then uses their stories in her books, changes the names for their privacy.  She spoke at a library event and it was wonderful, entertaining and extremely informative.  Wish I had met her prior to my trip to the Baltic States.

I do own 2 of her signed books.  “Like Salt to the Sea”  is very moving and the history is great and is probably my favorite.

Lots of historical fiction fans out there I know. And I’ve heard very good things about Fountains of Silence as well.

July 2023 Book of the Month

Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena: One of my favourite authors when it comes to psychological thrillers. I have multiple books rated a 10/10 for her, and hoping to add this one to the mix.

Releasing on July 25th, Shari has really mastered the whole “whodunnit” aspect of her books. This one takes place in Stanhope, a safe neighbourhood, and a lovely place for families.

William Wooler, a “family man” who is secretly having an affair loses his temper at his 9-year-old daughter, and then she goes missing. Then it is revealed that William may not be the only one with secrets.

I already know I’ll be reading this one all in one sitting. Can’t wait.

I should note her first two books weren’t psychological thrillers so you can start with The Couple Next Door and read anything from there on if you are looking to check her out. They are all standalone as well so no need to read in order.

10 More Notable Books Releasing in July

And don’t forget you can get updated on all the upcoming books by your favourite authors with your own personalized calendar at BookNotification.com.

July 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.   Thanks!

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

Picture of the Month

Fitting content with last month’s reader mailbag. Thanks to Janet for submitting. Comic created by Brian Crane.

Send in your own to site@orderofbooks.com or by replying!

Images, jokes, etc.  We’ll take it all!

Your Thoughts!

Last month I asked what your favourite settings in books were. The replies are later in the newsletter.

This month, Dale wrote in with this suggestion:

“Do you judge a book from chapter to chapter? Or do you wait until it all comes to a conclusion?”

I try to do a bit of both. I mentioned What Have We Done by Alex Finlay in the opening. If I were to judge it as a whole it would be a big thumbs down. That epilogue “ruined” my overall feelings about the book.

However, I have to think of the ride that I took to get to the end. The destination was no good, but the journey was a lot of fun. So I have to factor that into my feelings on a book. Actually, in that particular one, the destination was fine. But then just as I was happy being there, it started to thundersnow complete with tornadoes.

Of course, a good ending can also salvage a bad book.

There are of course some books that are heavily reliant on the conclusion. I remember reading a book a few months ago, which I was enjoying a lot. And the conclusion and twist were great. The problem was: the twist made no sense regarding what the author had been writing for the previous 300 pages.

It was as if the author had just told me bald-faced lie after bald-faced lie to lead up to a “surprising twist”. So that was one where the book relied on the ending, and it failed miserably. So I have to take it as a whole.

What about you? Do you judge chapter by chapter, or wait until the end? How does an ending impact your overall thoughts?

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!

Click here to read.

Order of Books » Newsletter » OrderOfBooks July 2023 Newsletter

One Response to “OrderOfBooks July 2023 Newsletter”

  1. Sue: 11 months ago

    Book Quote from Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon

    “It seemed to me at an early age that all human communication – whether it is TV, movies or books –
    begins with somebody wanting to tell a story. That need to tell, to plug into a universal socket, is probably one of our grandest desires. And the need to hear stories, to live lives other than own own for even the briefest moment, is the key to the magic that was born in our bones.

    Reply

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