Welcome to July!

Our sister site, Book Notification, just celebrated its one-year anniversary of its official launch last week, on June 26th.

It’s amazing to see how far it has come in such a short time. So many great features (with so many others planned). My goal with that site was to create the ultimate reader’s paradise, and I feel we’re well on the way to that. It’s a lot of work, but I absolutely love every minute of it.

We went from 24,000 authors to 49,000 authors audited and listed in that one-year timespan, which is incredible. 25,000 authors in a year. For comparison, OrderOfBooks has 5000 and it’s been online since 2011!

So head on over to Book Notification now and sign up if you haven’t. I’ve mentioned it before but it’s unlikely OrderOfBooks will ever be shut down or rolled into it – while Book Notification is my priority these days, they both run off the same database so there’s no real additional extra work. Plus, I have many fond memories over the years running OrderOfBooks plus sharing so many great emails back and forth with you, and would never want to end that.

I recently interviewed J.D. Barker over there about his Writers, Ink podcast. It’s a great podcast and highly recommended for both readers and authors.

It was a bit of a busy month travel-wise for me. I went to Covington, Georgia with my wife and daughter, who were attending a Vampire Diaries convention. I meanwhile, hung out at a Mexican restaurant 5 minutes walk away, sipping on $5 34oz Bud Lights at the bar and listening to my audiobook. Perfect trip.

Also, I was in Ottawa to see Snoop Dogg, then went to Texas to see Blink 182. Plus with Euro 2024 going on, it meant not too much time to read. Now, I’m writing this from the cottage we rent each year, which is a couple of hours out of town. I always get lots of reading done up here though so I’m looking forward to it.

To start the month, I read the 12th novel in the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben, “Think Twice”. This was one of my favourite series, although I’ve been disappointed in Harlan’s latest books.

I’ll have to go back and read the series at some point because I’m not sure if it was my imagination, but it felt like Win and Harlan were more over the top than usual, and were practically caricatures of themselves. I found that a bit off-putting but it could be they were always like that, and my memory is just playing tricks on me.

I received a lot of e-mails from people saying they loved Think Twice. I’m in the minority here as I didn’t enjoy the book that much.

I next read The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden. This is a standalone thriller about a young woman who moves in with a couple, to look after the invalid wife. The husband appears to be a loving person, but then the wife manages to hand the woman her diary, which exposes another side entirely.

This was a binge read. I picked it up at dinner time, and I didn’t stop until four hours later when I finished the book. It had me hooked, but I did feel it fell apart in the final act, unfortunately.

I then read The Housemaid Is Watching, the third in The Housemaid series by Freida McFadden.

Sadly, I had quite a few problems with this book. The biggest one? On June 23rd, I was having a late dinner before packing for my trip to Dallas. I was looking forward to packing, then early to bed as I had to get up at 3am that night. I decided to “read a few chapters”.

I was at 30% at the time. I then proceeded to tell myself “one more chapter” repeatedly until I finished the book. Sigh. Absolutely no willpower when it comes to books. It resulted in packing at midnight, then a quick two-hour snooze before the drive to Toronto. I both love and hate reading so much at times.

There were a few other problems with the book too. It glossed over the prior two books with barely a mention of the stories they told. It also takes place something like 11 years after the second book but doesn’t really mention that and that threw off the flow.

A few other issues. Some of the characters felt a bit too on the nose. Also, the protagonist doesn’t ever seem to talk to her kids about anything. It would interrupt the whole mystery aspect but it just felt off. Anyway, the book was okay overall, but I think it’s time for this housemaid to retire.

I finished the month by reading The Cottage by Lisa Stone.

It’s a crime suspense thriller. A woman is housesitting in an isolated cottage, and at night, weird things are happening. I’d personally advise reading against this book. First I read by her and the last.

A positive from the book is that Lisa has that knack to keep you reading. However that doesn’t disguise what I felt was just very poor writing overall, and completely unnatural characters and conversations.

Then there was an entire subplot that I wish I could borrow that device from Men in Black to forget. I’m stunned this book didn’t come with trigger warnings due to the subject matter involved. I can’t really talk about it without spoiling it but whatever – I’ll save you from reading this one.

Spoilers ahead: The subplot involves a sperm donor clinic where the owner is the only one donating sperm. This results in half-brothers/sisters unknowingly meeting up and having babies. The babies are defective due to this, and the mom either miscarries or are stillborn. Like I said – should have came with trigger warnings.

Except – many of them aren’t stillborn! They are still alive and the midwife sneaks them out and keeps them at her house. Then she takes these babies out to the woods tonight to roam around because they are genetic freaks I guess and these are the ones knocking on the window at the cottage and climbing the shed. Like I get that atavism is a thing but c’mon.

And then there’s all this nonsense with a worker at a security firm who somehow happens to be this massive hacker who can backdate bank transactions and all this other nonsense. I don’t expect I’ll be reading anymore by this author. Not grounded in reality.

I listened to Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay, a standalone thriller about a woman who disappeared six years ago but has apparently reappeared. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It went at a great pace, and it was the type of book that had me looking for excuses to go out and walk to listen to it. I didn’t think the ending quite landed, unfortunately. The big twist fell flat.

My next listen was Find You First, also by Linwood Barclay. I was pleased to see that George Newbern was the narrator for this one, as I really enjoyed his narration work on Take Your Breath Away.

This is the story of a multi-millionaire who finds out he has a terminal illness. Many years ago when he was broke, he was a sperm donor and he wanted to find his kids, and inform them about the possibility of them having the illness, plus split his fortune with them.

However there is someone else out there who doesn’t want him to split the fortune, and they start killing off his kids one by one.

It was a very solid book. A few twists that I wasn’t expecting. No big shocking twist that leaves you stunned or anything like that, but a very enjoyable listen.

I’m now listening to A Noise Downstairs by him.

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:

Vicki K from Syndey, Australia
Thomas H. from Mukwonago, WI
Denise A. from Hopkins, MN
Margaret from Winter Haven, FL
Wendy M. from Asheville, NC

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


Quotes of the Month

“[The Wayside School series] might be my favorite series of all time, even more than Harry Potter. The first and the second one are so good. The third one is good too, but not my favorite. The third in a series usually isn’t that great, so it’s not his fault.”

– In The Housemaid is Watching by Freida McFadden, third book in the series.

“It is foolish to think that you have to read all the books you buy, as it is foolish to criticize those who buy more books than they will ever be able to read. It would be like saying that you should use all the cutlery or glasses or screwdrivers or drill bits you bought before buying new ones.

“There are things in life that we need to always have plenty of supplies, even if we will only use a small portion.

“If, for example, we consider books as medicine, we understand that it is good to have many at home rather than a few: when you want to feel better, then you go to the ‘medicine closet’ and choose a book. Not a random one, but the right book for that moment. That’s why you should always have a nutrition choice!

“Those who buy only one book, read only that one and then get rid of it. They simply apply the consumer mentality to books, that is, they consider them a consumer product, a good. Those who love books know that a book is anything but a commodity.”

Umberto Eco

“All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been, it is all lying in magic preservation in the pages of books.”

Thomas Carlyle

Thanks to Ann and Evelyn for submitting quotes this month. Submit your own quotes; just hit reply. Book-related is great but happy to share non-book related too! Love seeing quotes from books!

Book Recommendations

In this section, I give 3-5 random book recommendations from readers of the newsletter. They can be old books, they can be new. Feel free to e-mail suggestions to me. Just hit reply. If you wish to add a description for the book around the same size as the ones below that’d be great too! 

Danny Ryan Series by Don Winslow: I’ve had this series on my TBR forever but never got around to it. Need to do that soon! Keith wrote in to praise and recommend it, with a helpful hint.

“I recently finished Don Winslow’s “Danny Ryan” trilogy and highly recommend the books. The only caveat is that I suggest reading the three novels in order and in close succession. I listened to the first book (“City on Fire”) about two years ago. When I then listened to “City of Dreams” and “City in Ruins” in 2024, I found that I had forgotten some of the backstory and minor characters. While each book is strong enough to be a standalone novel, I felt that I missed some of the nuances until I picked up enough reminders to unlock the memory floodgates. After that, it was a joyous, high-speed ride through the underbelly of America. All three books are read by Ari Fliakos, who is an accomplished voice actor – over 90 performances credited on OverDrive at my local library.”

Kentucky Series by Fern Michaels: I’ve recommended the Sisterhood series by Fern before, so it’s always nice to recommend a different series.

Dianne wrote in to recommend this, saying “I made an interesting discovery just this week. I picked up Fern Michaels’ Kentucky Rich. Into the first few pages I was going to scrap it but went on to the first chapter and boy was I hooked. I read the book that night, went out to get the second one, found the third on a t the same time and bought both. Read number 2 that night and number 3 the next day. ”

Love that sort of binge. Fern Michaels’ “Kentucky Rich” follows Nealy Coleman, who returns to settle unfinished family business and confronts her past, impacting her family deeply. The novel blends the excitement of Kentucky horse racing with themes of strong, accomplished women.

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd: A standalone novel recommended by Nancy, who wrote:

“I have just read it a 2nd time for our book club meeting on Monday. It is an amazing story and a really good read. It takes place in 1739 in South Carolina and is about a 16 year old girl that takes over running her father’s plantations. Her family is in danger of losing everything. She hears of the profitable Indigo dye and sets off to save their plantations by growing the plant. She is thwarted by every turn, even her family but finds allies in an aging horticulturalist, a lawyer, and a slave. It is based on historical documents and Eliza Lucas’ own letters. The writing is so good, a page turner and so enjoyable.”

Chasing The Light by Oliver Stone: This one was recommended by Carol, who wrote:

“Normally I put an audiobook on at night and fall asleep shortly thereafter. Last night this gripped me enough to stay up till 5 am listening to it. It’s one of or the best audio book I’ve listened to. He narrates it himself & it makes a difference. He doesn’t read it. He just tells you what he went through and to me it was fascinating.”

I love that sort of thing. It’s a memoir from the Oscar-winning director and screenwriter behind Platoon and Scarface.

The Stolen Lady by Laura Morelli: This is one for historical fiction fans. Susan wrote in to recommend it. Here is what she wrote:

“I am currently reading The Stolen Lady about the Mona Lisa. I am half way through but I am enjoying it thoroughly. There is a lot of history in this story as it goes back and forth between the 1400-1500’s when Leonardo painted the portrait and Paris in the late 30’s early 40’s when art from the Louvre was moved to avoid its capture by the invading Germans. I realize that there is a “bit” of fiction here but just some of the historical facts are fascinating. I must have missed them in History class…It is a very enjoyable read.”

That’s the best part about historical fiction – all the little things you learn, or that lead you down a rabbit hole on Wikipedia.

July Book Of The Month

Dog Day Afternoon by David Carpenter: The latest Andy Carpenter novel is out this month.

“Dog Day Afternoon” is the title of the new book by David Rosenfelt. The Andy Carpenter series is very popular on OOB. Marcus Clark appears at the Tara Foundation with two disadvantaged young men who want a dog.

There’s a mass shooting at one of their workplaces later, and one of them is considered the main suspect. Marcus asks Andy for his help to clear the man.

10 More Notable Books Releasing in July

Brought to you by BookNotification.com where you can get updated on all the upcoming books by your favourite authors with your own personalized calendar!

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! Feel free to donate to a similar charity but in your own area.

World Central Kitchen
Ronald McDonald House
Reach Out And Read
The Bail Project

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

Pictures of the Month:

Submitted by Donna

Submitted by Norma

Book plantings at the San Antonio botanical gardens. So cool!!! Submitted by Chris.

Send in your own to site@orderofbooks.com or by replying! Images, jokes, etc. We’ll take it all! Bit of a backlog but working my way through it.

Your Thoughts!

Last month I asked ‘how and where do you read?”. The replies are later in the newsletter.

This month, the question is:

What Odd Reasons Have Caused You To Read A Particular Book?

This was inspired by Chris, who wrote in to mention that she was reading “Make Room! Make Room!” and here is the reasoning for it:

“I was at the store with my son when I saw some kind of green nutritional drink on the shelf called Soylent. I had to laugh as it reminded me of the 1973 movie “Soylent Green” and it made me curious about the book behind it. It’s called “Make Room! Make Room!” and it was written by Harry Harrison. It’s been very interesting so far but one big thing that’s different from the movie is that the food the people eat is made of soybeans and lentils (soy-lent), not, you know, people.”

That’s an interesting one. I rarely eat chips and curry sauce, as it’s not a common menu item here in Canada, but if I do, there’s a good chance I’ll read The Firm by John Grisham shortly thereafter. The reason is related to a memory of reading that book for the first time and staying up all night, then falling asleep at 8 am, waking up at 3 pm and going straight to the video store to rent the adaptation.

The video store was beside a chip shop and I got chips and curry sauce. So I always relate the two and if you ever see me reading The Firm it usually means I was in the UK very recently.

There are a few times when I’ve seen a character on a TV show reading a book and looked it up and ended up reading it. Complicity by Iain Banks was one of those, after seeing a police officer reading it in Hot Fuzz.

I haven’t read it yet myself, but I was skimming Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman. A reader had a question about it. It’s the 5th novel in the Stonechild and Rouleau Mysteries series. It caught me off guard reading it, as she talked about a character going to a pub called the Iron Duke for a drink. I laughed because the pub I frequent the most is called the Iron Duke.

Then I read more, and realized she was talking about the very same Iron Duke! The book takes place in Kingston, Ontario where I live. So now I’ve added that entire series to my list to read. Really neat.

What About You? What odd reasons have caused you to read a particular book?

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.

h2>Reader Mailbag!

Click here to read.

Order of Books » Newsletter » OrderOfBooks July 2024 Newsletter

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