September already wow – where does the time go? I know Summer doesn’t officially end until near the end of the month but it always feels like it’s over as soon as we hit September.

The weather has already changed here drastically in the past week. From insane humidity and sunshine to a couple of days of heavy rain and thunderstorms.

It’s funny as I was going to say with the colder days and the rain it’s “prime reading time”. Thinking about it though – any time is prime reading time for me! I’ll read in a heat wave, in a thunderstorm, on a rainy day. Heck I had to take my son to get his wisdom teeth out the other week and I was excited at the idea of having to sit in the waiting room for an hour – just me and my kindle!

I mentioned in the mid-month newsletter I had started the Carter Blake series by Mason Cross, which is a Jack Reacher style series. I read the 2nd one in the last couple of weeks The Samaritan. I’m enjoying it however there is one major issue with it. One of our readers, Tom, also started it and he summarized it quite well:

On your recommendation I started Cross’s Carter Blake series and have read the first two. I find the plots intriguing and the characters interesting. I have one criticism, however. The flow of action is erratic and I think it is because the point of view switches between first-person Blake and third person observer who doesn’t have a persona. The reader has to switch between a self-aware person (Blake) and a faceless, indifferent narrator. This switch can be done, but it needs a master craftsman to pull off.

That sums it up a lot better than I could. It’s an excellent series so far and I will continue to read it but the POV/narrator issue is a serious turn off.

I read the latest book by Stephen Leather in the Spider Shepherd series, Slow Burn. This is easily one of my top 5 series and thinking back to out desert island question a few months back – if I was stranded on a desert island I think I’d like to take this series with me. I have already read through the entire series three times over the years and the last few books I have read make me want to do that again.

Shepherd starts off as an undercover cop in the UK and it’s a series I highly recommend. Always something about UK authors I love. Check it out.

I read the latest novel by Shari Lapena, The End of Her. I was a bit disappointed. Shari had dived into the whodunit genre in her last couple of novels and I thought she was a master at it. She went back to the domestic thriller genre for this one and I had quite a few issues with it. Primarily completely out of left field character development that just didn’t make sense.

I can’t complain too much though as I sat down to “read to 50%” the other day when I was at 40%. Ended up sitting there for over an hour reading the entire book and couldn’t put it down. Just a slightly weak outing from a very talented author.

I’m currently reading Never Ask Me by Jeff Abbott. This is a thriller about a woman murdered in one of the safest communities there is; and all the mystery and secrets within the community.

I love Jeff but man he turns me off at times with the way he refers to social media sites or popular games etc. In a previous book he refers to the social media network “FacePlace” and in this book they are playing the game “Critterscape” which is Pokemon Go. Just referring to “leveling up” and “catching shockersquirrels” was cringeworthy. Could be legal reasons or some other reason but it always bothers me.

Teenagers and kids also narrate the book from their POV and I always feel like most adult authors can never quite nail “teen speak”. Still enjoying but with all the mysteries that are yet to be revealed the jury is out on whether it will be one that I’ll be recommending or not.

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:

Brent from Silver Spring, MD
Marilyn M. from New York, NY
Frank from Plano, TX
Mary from White City, OR
Denise G. from Boston, MA

All 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 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!

Texas Rodeo Series by Kari Lynn Dell

Kari started writing in 2015 and was most well known for her Texas Rodeo series. Unfortunately Kari was taken from us way too soon. She passed away on August 14th at the age of 57.

Elaine e-mailed me upon her passing to mention this series that I wanted to recommend here. Elaine wrote:

“Although neither westerns nor romance are on my regular reading lists, I have looked forward to each of her books since reading the first one when I started following her blog. I don’t recall how I blundered into it years ago, but always wished she would write for it more often.

I will miss her well-told tales of life on her Montana ranch and her wry wit, relatable characters, sense of place and easy reading style. And most of all, I will miss looking forward to the next Texas Rodeo book, the only western and/or romance series I’ve ever had on my shelves.”

Be sure to check out the Texas Rodeo series by Kari and my thoughts are with her family.

The Professor by Robert Bailey

Jeanne recommended this book which is the first in the McMurtie & Drake series. She wrote:

“One of the best books my husband and I have read is “The Professor” by Robert Bailey. It is a story about a retiring law professor at the University of Alabama who played on Alabama’s National Title football team, a current student and a former student and a case they take. We have given out over 20 copies to friends, male and female and all have absolutely loved it some even calling us and thanking us for giving it to them!”

I love that sort of enthusiasm. I can totally relate to that having recently bought about 20 different copies of Replay by Ken Grimwood to give out to friends and family.

Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt
I’ve recommended this great series before however it has been a couple of years since the last recommendation. Mary wrote in to ask me to recommend it and said:

“his books are probably the funniest mysteries I’ve ever read. The main character is a rich (inherited) attorney, Andy Carpenter, who really doesn’t like to work, then Laurie, his girlfriend, and of course, his dog Tara. The first book in the series is “Open and Shut”, followed by at least 15 or more. Hope this adds to someone’s day. Just plain fun!”

An excellent series to read if you need a smile.

87th Precinct Series by Ed McBain

This is one of those classic series that I never think to recommend because most people will have heard about it. However Judy e-mailed me asking if I had recommended it and looking through previous newsletters, I haven’t.

Many of our readers however have recommended it and praised it in mailbag topics and I thought it would be a good idea to recommend it for any readers who haven’t read it. Just an iconic series. Judy said it best – that it is an excellent police procedural series that is way ahead of its time.

There’s a lot of books in the series but I feel it is one of those series where you can read one book, read a few different books then easily pick up where you left off. Nice and easy reads.

Blood Meridan by Cormac McCarthy

Someone e-mailed saying “Hey you never recommend any Western books or series”. Well no-one ever suggests them! If you’re a fan of Westerns be sure to write in with your favourite books or series so I can feature them in future newsletters.

Westerns aren’t really my cup of tea – books or movies – however I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Meridan by Cormac McCarthy. He also wrote No Country for Old Men however I preferred this one. Some people refer to it as an anti-Western so maybe that’s why?

Either way if you’re looking to try a great book in that genre, check out Blood Meridan. And contact me with any additional Western books or series you want me to recommend!

Book of the Month #1

Total Power by Kyle Mills

It’s a date I look forward to all year – a new novel in the Mitch Rapp series.

I’ve been so impressed with the way that Kyle Mills took over this spy thriller series following Vince Flynns untimely passing. He was able to capture the style in which Vince wrote while also adding his own personal touch.

In the last book he jumped into the political arena more which is something Vince did many times in his books and I thought he did an incredible job with it.

Terrorists have plunged the USA into darkness by taking down their power grid. Only one man can restore the light – and that man is Mitch Rapp.

Book of the Month #2:

To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

I recommend and talk about the Mitch Rapp series a lot in here so I felt a bit bad going with a purely personal recommendation for book of the month.

So I decided to add an additional “Book of the Month” highlighting the new novel coming out by the great Christopher Paolini. It’s about Kira Navarez, who is on a routine mission on a planet that is uncolonized when she discovers an alien relic.

This is her dream however it soon turns into her nightmare when she is transported to a new world.

Paolini is just a genius and this should be a great one – his first standalone novel.

Book of the Month #3:

All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

I decided to go for a rare three books of the month because I realized that if I didn’t give this one a feature, I’d get more hate mail than I’d know what to do with.

It’s here! September 1st! The new Inspector Gamache novel. Louise Penny is our most popular author and Gamache is back to bring September in with a bang!

The Gamaches are in Paris and on their first night disaster strikes when Armand’s godfather is critically injured. Armand doesn’t think it was an accident then discovers a mysterious key in his possession…

It’s going to be a good one AND IT IS OUT TODAY!!! I have a feeling I won’t receive too many mailbag e-mails today as everyone will be too busy reading it!

10 More Notable Books in September

New Author Spotlight: Erin Kinsley

This month we are featuring Erin Kinsley. Authors such as Peter James have recommended Erin.

Erin Kinsley is a British crime fiction author best known for her breakout debut novel, Found released in 2019. It earned her critical acclaim and she was long listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize.

Kinsley grew up with a love of books that she believes helped her get her out of her comfort zone as a child. She would get new books each weekend that she would read throughout the week and has continued this habit into adulthood. Her first novel, Found, was selected by the Reading Agency as a best read which was quite an honor for a life-long library reader.

Found tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Evan who has gone missing without a trace. The family is devastated and the police have no answers as each dead end just leads to another dead end. Months later, Evan is found. He is scared and afraid to speak. DI Naylor knows that whoever took Evan needs to be found in order to save other children from the same ordeal, but with Evan refusing to speak she finds that rather hard to do.

Visit our page on Erin Kinsley for more details.

Audiobook Arena:

Written by Carol

I am an avid audiobook fan. I try not to buy anything under 10 hours long- in an attempt to get my money’s worth, I guess. I have narrators I look for – Scott Brick, Campbell Scott, Bernadette Dunn, Edoardo Ballerini, Ray Porter…..
Scott Brick does “The Passage Trilogy” by Justin Cronin and it is fantastic.

Bernadette Dunn does the “Oryx and Crake” trilogy by Margaret Atwood, beginning with the second book, “Year of the Flood;” Campbell Scott does the first book, “Oryx and Crake.” Absolutely one of my all time favorite trilogies. Edoardo Ballerini has the most delicious voice; he does the Matthew Corbett series by Robert McCammon, which are a whole lot of fun.

And I can’t not mention Neil Gaiman- he reads quite a few of his own books and really does a fabulous job. My faves there are- anything he reads! “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” “The Graveyard Book,” such fun! I wish he’d read “American Gods,” but it was awfully good with Ron McLarty and cast. As a rule, I prefer a single reader as opposed to a cast. I’m also a big Stephen King fan, and have been stunned by how much more depth I get out of his books listening to them- having read all of them at their original publication- but I don’t care for Mr. King’s reading. Not that I let that stop me.
I could go on!

Thanks for your excellent site, I always enjoy.

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!

Your Thoughts:

Last month I asked you who your favourite 5 authors are that currently release books on a regular basis. The responses are below.

This month I am asking: what are the most memorable novels from your youth?

I actually asked this question back in May 2018. I was looking at some newsletter statistics the other day and this was actually the 3rd most popular topic in terms of word count in the history of the mailbag. So hey why not dig it up again? And if you answered it back then feel free to answer again of course!

Here’s what I wrote last time (as surprise – the most memorable novels from my youth haven’t changed in two years!)

“Youth” can be tricky to define so there’s no set age range there – I’ll leave it up to you to decide. It can just be generally memorable novels or books, or a certain book that made you a life long fan of reading. Or maybe certain life circumstances that make you immediately think of that novel.

For me? Well as a child I read Enid Blyton pretty much exclusively. To be honest I’ve sat here for about 10 minutes and I cannot think of one other author I actually read until I was 13 years old. Her stories were always amazing and I went back and re-read many of her series a couple of years ago and they still stood the test of time.

I still remember winning some sort of contest at the Boys Brigade, and out of 100 random prizes I was given “Shadow the Sheep-dog” by Enid Blyton. Growing up we were very poor and I had to rely on the library for books. This was the first book of hers I’d ever owned and I just have fond memories of reading that book and never wanting it to end. 28 years later and I still own that book even if it is a bit worse for wear, and still read it from time to time.

At 13 I read my first “adult” novel and the book that really hooked me on reading – The Client by John Grisham. I still lived in Scotland at the time but was visiting my dad in Canada (Parents divorced when I was 8 and he moved to Canada).

The movie had just came out in theatres and we were going to see it. The day before, he gave me the book and suggested I try and read it. Well I did and I just devoured it. I stayed up all night reading it and went to the movie on no sleep. It was a great book to movie transition and honestly the whole experience of reading this book, staying up all night then watching the movie is just one of those memories that always stick with me.

That got me onto Grisham and opened up a whole new world for me when it came to books and I’ve never looked back!

And an honorary mention to Dirty White Boys by Stephen Hunter. When I was 15 I was flying back to Scotland after another trip, and my dad gave me a copy of that book to read on the plane. It was an incredible book and got me onto the “Bob Lee Swagger” series which is a “lone badass” type of book, and is now my favourite genre of books.

I actually got a little teary eyed re-reading that, ha. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it in here before but my dad passed away last June. Was neat just looking back at what I wrote when he was still alive and thinking about what a big influence he has been on my biggest love – books. That Stephen Hunter recommendation in particular led me onto the word of Rapp, Reacher, Shepherd etc which are my favourite type of books. Thanks Dad. Miss ya.

Okay enough of that – what about you? What memorable books are there from your youth? And if you want to go down memory lane check out the May 2018 mailbag.

E-mail us your feedback to 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.

Reader Mailbag:

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Order of Books » Newsletter » September 2020 Newsletter

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