Category: Bookish Question

Does your library stock Christian books?

Bookish Question #67 | Does Your Library Stock Christian Books?

Yes! My local library system has a healthy selection of Christian books.

They do tend to focus on the major US publishers rather than buying books from local authors. They also had more of a focus on fiction than non-fiction.

Unfortunately, they aren’t all free.

My library has two sections—fee and paid. New releases and books from popular authors tend to go into the paid section for several months before finding their way into the free section. This does keep waiting times down (I’ve heard of people being 84th in line for a book, but that doesn’t happen here!).

Anyway, books from the paid section cost $3 for two weeks (compared to around $30 to buy the same book in the bookstore that used to be across the road). That’s a fair price for a new-to-me author I may or may not enjoy, or for a book I don’t think I’ll want to read and re-read (yes, there were books I’d borrow then buy).

But I mostly stopped borrowing the paid titles once I started reviewing, because those were the titles I chose to review.

But the library still stocks a great selection of Christian books.

What about you? Does yuur library stock Christian books?

Do you read reviews before buying a book?

Bookish Question #66 | Do You Read Reviews Before Buying a Book?

This might sound odd coming from a book reviewer, but I rarely read book reviews before buying a book.

Why not?

Mostly because I’m a book reviewer. Reviewing means I get a lot of books free (so I’m not buying them at all), and I’m often reading pre-release or new release books that don’t have many reviews.

When it comes to buying books, I’ll sometimes buy pre-order books (e.g the entire Tuscan Legacy series). Again, I’m often buying before release date, so there are often few reviews if any. Pre-orders are tempting, because many of the books are offered at special low prices for the preorder period only.

I also buy sale Kindle books, such as those advertised through email newsletters like BookBub. These are often free or 99 cent books. I never look at reviews for the free books (they’re free. Why would I). And I rarely look at the reviews for the 99 cent books. If I buy, it’s on the strength of the cover, author name, and book description (and price). I figure BookBub has already checked out the reviews, and they won’t advertise the book if there is an obvious issue.

I do check book reviews most when it comes to buying full-price Kindle books or paperbacks. But even then I’m checking the reviews that point out the faults (so the one-star and two-star reviews), or the reviews from authors, friends, or reviewers whose opinions I trust because we like similar books

What about you? Do you read reviews before buying a book?

Do you visit book stores?

Bookish Question #65 | Do you visit book stores?

Do I visit book stores?

Sometimes and all the time.

This is 2018. There are two kinds of book store: physical, and online. I visit one kind of store all the time (can you guess which?). The other kind? Not so often. What about you?

Physical Book Stores

I rarely visit a physical book store unless I need to buy a physical book or product. The last time I visited one was to buy my niece a book voucher for her birthday. The time before that was to buy my husband and my mother each a book for Christmas. It’s now July. That tells you how often I visit physical book stores.

Online Book Stores

Online book stores are a different story … I don’t spent as much time browsing on Amazon as I used to, but I still visit the site at least a couple of times a week to download a sale book, to check the release date of a book I’m planning to review, or to access the links to add to a review. I also visit Amazon,, and on a semi-regular basis to post my reviews.

What about you? Do you visit book stores? What kind?

Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Bookish Question #64 | Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Yes! That’s one of the best things about going to writer’s conferences—getting to meet writers.

I attended my first writing conference in October 2012. It was held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and I got to meet several Australian authors I admired, including Rose Dee, Andrea Grigg, Paula Vince, Meredith Resce, and Amanda Deed. I’ve attended five conferences since, and have had the opportunity to meet other wonderful Australian authors such as Narelle Atkins, Dorothy Adamek, Nicki Edwards, and Mary Hawkins—the author of Search for Tomorrow, an early Heartsong Presents title, and the first Christian novel I ever read that was set in Australia.

I’ve also attended several Romance Writers of New Zealand conferences. I’ve met James Scott Bell (who gave a wonderful day-long presentation despite suffering from the flu), and Kristen Lamb.

I’ve also met New Zealand’s own Kara Isaac. I was visiting family in Wellington, where Kara lives, so messaged her and asked if she’d like to meet for coffee so she could autograph my copy of Close to You. We’ve met again since (so she could autograph Can’t Help Fallling, and so she could pass on my Genesis Award, which she was kind enough to collect for me in Nashville.

The other author I’ve met in person was Candace Calvert. She was on holiday, cruising around New Zealand with her husband. I happen to live in a cruise port, so Ellie Whyte, Angela Bycroft and I met Candace after she’d finished the obligatory Hobbiton tour.

(By the way, if you ever do a New Zealand cruise, look me up. If I’m free, I’d love to meet you for coffee after you’ve been to Hobbiton or Rotorua, the city of boiling mud.)

What about you? Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Have you requested books for your local library?

Bookish Question #63 | Have you requested books for your local library?

We’ve talked before about whether we borrow books from the library. I used to, but don’t so much any more.

But what if your local library doesn’t have a book you want to read? Do you request the book?

My local library system has a good selection of Christian fiction, which is great. They also now have ebooks available, which extends the available selection. What we don’t have (that I know of) is an inter-library loan system the way I think some other countries have.

Anyway, our local libraries are pretty good, which meant (back when I used to use them) that I was generally able to find books I wanted to read. So I never bothered requesting books—I didn’t need to.

I did once request one of the Red Rock Mysteries for my daughter. The library had the first four books in the series, and I requested book 5. But they told me the first four books weren’t borrowed often enough to justify buying book five. So I didn’t ask again. Then I got my Kindle, started reviewing through NetGalley, and regular trips to the library became a thing of the past.

What about you? Have you requested books for your local library?

Do you read author newsletters?

Bookish Question #62 | Do you read author newsletters?

Once upon a time, author newsletters were a rare beast.

That was mostly because of the work involved—it wasn’t just a case of writing the newsletter, but getting it printed, printing off address labels, stuffing envelopes, and posting the newsletters.

I was once responsible for writing, publishing, and mailing a 16+ page newsletter to 500+ paying subscribers for my employer. It took about a week each month—longer on the months when I didn’t manage to bribe the receptionist into helping with the last part. A regular newsletter was a big commitment of time and money.

But now it’s all done by email.

The mailing list is managed by a service such as MailChimp, and all the author has to do is write the newsletter, load it up, and press ‘send’ (or pay a virtual assistant to help with the actual sending). This has meant a proliferation of newsletters. I’ve signed up for dozens (many through giveaways).

The recent introduction of GDPR meant I got to unsubscribe from several using the passive-aggressive method of not hitting either the subscribe or unsubscribe buttons when they sent the (perhaps unnecessary) reconfirmation emails. There is one I don’t read because I’d unsubscribe if I could, but legal details aren’t that author’s strong point because there is no unsubscribe option.

Do I read them?

I read the newsletters of my favourite authors. I read the newsletters of the funny authors. And I read the newsletters of the authors where I know it’s going to be news, not a sales pitch for a book I’ve either already bought, or already decided I don’t want to buy. (I know the email gurus say to ask for the sale more than once, but I’m the buyer who proves all the theories wrong).

What about you? Do you read author newsletters?

Do you read fiction or non-fiction or both?

Bookish Question #61 | Do you read fiction or non-fiction or both?


But I read a lot more fiction than non-fiction.

In terms of fiction, I mostly read Christian fiction. But I read most genres of Christian fiction except Amish and fantasy. I also read some general market fiction—mostly women’s fiction, clean romance, or Young Adult dystopian.

My non-fiction reading is a lot narrower. I read the Bible (which I consider to be non-fiction, despite what others might think), and books about writing craft, book marketing, and the occasional book on editing or publishing. I also read (and share) a lot of blog posts on writing craft, editing, publishing, and book marketing.

What about you? Do you read fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Do you read books as soon as you receive them?

Bookish Question #60: Do you read books as soon as you receive them?

This question is a sign of the times!

Once upon a time, back when I only read paper books, I “received” them in one of three ways: I bought them myself, I borrowed them from the library, or I received them as gifts.

And I always read them as soon as I received them. I would, of course, prioritise library books, because they had to be returned. But it would be rare for me to have a book longer than a week or two before I read it. The main exceptions were the Good News Bible a friend gave me when I was about thirteen, or the reference books I was given: books of Bible stories, children’s encyclopedias (encyclopediae?), or (later) university textbooks.

But ereaders have changed my book-buying habits. So has reviewing.

As a result, my reading habits have also changed.

I get a lot of review books. Some I receive direct from authors, but I find most on NetGalley. I also have hundreds and hundreds of unread books on my Kindle. Most of them were downloaded free, but there is also a good number of books I’ve paid for (including many sale books. Because there is a never-ending supply of books I want to read. No matter how much I want to read it, I’m reluctant to pay $10 for a book when I already have so many unread books.

But if that same book goes down to 99c or $1.99? Or where the pre-order copy is half the regular price? Or when I find a must-read book on NetGalley? Sold.

You see my problem. A complete lack of self-control when it comes to books.

The result is a to-read pile which is out of control. So this year I’ve made, and am making, a concerted effort to read new books as soon as they arrive on my Kindle. I prioritise books I’ve paid for, but also (try) to apply this to review copies.

The positive aspect to this is I’ve already read all the books I’m due to review in June, and have written and scheduled most of the reviews as well. I also make a point of not visiting NetGalley unless I’m posting my reviews, or receive an email saying I’ve been approved to review a book I requested.

I have also decided not to buy Kindle books that area already available unless I want to read them at once. Right. Now. It’s working as a way of keeping my to-read mountain from growing into a small planet. It also means that when a pre-ordered book arrives on my Kindle, I can sit down and read it right away. It helps that most books seem to release at 7pm in my timezone, just as I’m sitting down to relax in the evening!

So, long answer short, I am making a point of trying to read books as soon as I receive them rather than letting them languish on my Kindle.

What about you? Do you read books as soon as you receive them?

Have you written book reviews?

Bookish Question #59 | Have you written book reviews?

Yes! I write book reviews.

500 Book Reviews

I don’t know exactly how many book reviews I’ve written. I have over 600 reviews published on NetGalley (they gave me a new badge at 500!), 800 published on Amazon US and on Goodreads. My original book review blog has exactly 1,000 posts, although not all of those posts are book reviews. I also used to post reviews on the now-retired Suspense Sisters Reviews. Those have now been deleted, so I’m reposting them here as #ThrowbackThursday posts.

It’s ironic that I’ve written and published so many reviews. I loathed writing book reviews at school, because they cut into my reading time. Our teacher gave us half an hour of reading time each day, and wanted us to review each book we read. Well, I read in my spare time, so I seemed to spend all my class time writing reviews when everyone else was doing what I’d rather be doing—reading. And we had to write our reviews in a certain format, which took longer than if I’d been able to write whatever I wanted.

Writing online reviews is easy in comparison!

Do you write book reviews? Why, or why not?

Do you enter book giveaways?

Bookish Question #58 | Do you enter book giveaways?

Do I enter book giveaways?

Sometimes. But not often.

I have entered some online book giveaways, and I’ve even won a few. I recently won a paperback copy of the wonderful A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal, in a giveaway at International Christian Fiction Writers.

And I was introduced to the whole world of blogging and online book reviewing when I won a giveaway in late 2011. The prize was an ebook in my choice of formats, and it ended up being delivered to me as a download link from NetGalley (the link expired after 60 days and the book was unreadable, but that’s another story). Anyway, I created a NetGalley account to download my free book, and found loads more books by many of my favourite authors, all free if I promised to review them. So I did.

(Click here if you’d like to learn more about online reviewing through NetGalley.)

Despite this, I don’t enter a lot of book giveaways.

There are three reasons why not.

  1. Geography

I live in New Zealand, and most giveaways are for print books, and are restricted to US mailing addresses. I’ve seen authors justify this online by the cost of posting books to far-away countries like New Zealand. I can understand that, but do they realise how expensive books are in New Zealand? The paperback with a recommended retail price of USD 14.99 (which sometimes sells on Amazon for less than USD 10) generally costs $25 to $30 here. Postage might cost, but the result is we appreciate the book so much more.

2. Capacity

I do not have room for any more paperback books in my house. I’m already faced with some tough decisions on that front! And my Kindle is full to overflowing with unread ebooks. I keep telling myself I’m not going to buy more until I’ve read what I have. (Yes, I’m lying to myself). But I’m reluctant to enter a giveaway when I have no idea if or when I’ll get a chance to read the book if I win.

3. Value

Most of the giveaways that are open internationally are ebook giveaways, which means the purchase price isn’t expensive. If the book is on sale for 99 cents and it interests me, I’ll probably buy it rather than enter the giveaway. That’s not such an easier decision for books priced at $2.99 or $3.99 or $4.99, but I still end up buying some rather than entering the giveaway. Because if I like the book enough to enter the giveaway, I like it enough to at least consider buying it.

What about you? Do you enter book giveaways? Why or why not?