Category: Bookish Question

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?

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Bookish Question 56 | Do you listen to audiobooks?

I have listened to some audiobooks, but I am not an audiobook fan. There are a few reasons for this.

First, and most important, is that I’m a fast reader. I’ve done some of those online tests and learned I read at somewhere between 500 and 600 words per minute. In contrast, people speak at somewhere around 180 words per minute. That means I can read most novels in around one-third of the time it would take for me to read the book.

My next reason for not listening to audiobooks is related—time. I don’t have time to listen to audiobooks. This is mostly because I work from home, which means I don’t spend much time in the car. Even when I am in the car, it’s usually for no more than fifteen minutes at a time.

I have been through periods in life where I’ve commuted—my London tube journey was about 40 minutes each way, five days a week. That was great in that it gave me plenty of reading time, and I worked my way through most of the classics of British literature during those years.

I’ve also commuted by car—three hours each way, but fortunately only once a week. Reading while driving is illegal, but listing to audiobooks is not. The only audiobook I had at the time was the King James Version of the New Testament, so I listened to that a lot. I also borrowed some audiobooks from my local library. Some were excellent but others were not, and that had more to do with the narrator than the book. The worst were the ones who read in soporiphic monotone. I was driving. I needed to be kept awake, not sent to sleep.

And that’s my final reason for not listening to audiobooks: the varible quality of the narration. Yes, you can sample the narration, but it’s not as though there are multiple narrators on offer for a specific book. If you want to listen to a story, you have to listen to the story with THAT narrator, good or bad.

If I ever got to the point of having long driving commutes again then I might spend the time listening to audiobooks. Until then, I’ll stick to reading my books.

What about you? Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not?

Bookish Question: Do you borrow books from the library?

Bookish Question #54 | Do you borrow books from the library?

My local library has an excellent selection of Christian fiction from the major publishers. A lot of it is in the paid section ($3 for two weeks, instead of free for three weeks). It might cost, but the cost still represents a saving over buying the paperback myself—most new releases cost between $25 and $30.

I used to visit the library most weeks. This was partly to feed my own reading addiction, and partly in an attempt to institutionalise and indoctrinate my children give my children a love of reading (I have a 50% success rate on that).

But the children got older, and I got a Kobo ereader, followed by a Kindle.

I found some of the books I was paying $3 for at the library were as cheap or free on Amazon. And I discovered NetGalley, which gave me free ebooks from many of my favourite authors if I reviewed the books. My library visits have gradually dwindled to nothing, even though they now offer free ebook loans as well as the traditional print books.

Why? Because I have more than enough to read at home between my physical print and virtual Kindle to-read piles (files?).

What about you? Do you borrow books from the library? Let me know in the comments.

Bookish Question: Would you attend a Christian reader event?

Bookish Question #53 | Would you attend a Christian reader event?

First, what is a Christian reader event?

A Christian reader event is a reader-centric book fair where readers get the opportunity to meet and hear from authors.

The first I heard of was the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat held in 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, the day before the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference. The event attracted many popular Christian fiction authors attending the conference, including Kiwi Kara Isaac.

I also know Omega Writers, an Australasian organisation for Christian writers, have organised successful book fairs in Queensland to promote local Christian writers.

I’ve attended author events such as book launches or writer’s conferences, but I haven’t attended any reader events, much less a Christian reader event. This is mostly a factor of geography: to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a Christian reader event in my country (New Zealand), let alone in my city.

Would I attend a Christian reader event?

Yes, if it was close to where I live (say, within a two-hour drive), or if it was somewhere I was going to be anyway (e.g. the day before or after a writer’s conference I was attending). But I wouldn’t travel any further, both because of the time and the cost. Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied to stalk follow my favourite authors online, through their websites, newsletters, and social media.

What about you? Would you attend a Christian reader event? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Bookish Question: Do you read print books or ebooks or both?

Bookish Question #52 | Do you read print books or ebooks or both?

It’s a little over ten years since Amazon released their first-generation Kindle e-reader, which sold out in less than six hours (and it was almost six months before it was back in stock).

Since then, we’ve seen a range of ereader options released, including Kobo and Nook readers. We’ve also seen all the major booksellers develop their own ereader apps. Now anyone can read ebooks, whether on a dedicated ereader, or on another device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Which leads to this week’s question: Do you read print books or ebooks or both?

I have to admit that I don’t have the patience to read an entire novel on the computer. I already read a lot of blog posts on the computer. Also, I always want to make changes, because I do my freelance editing on the computer. I’m also not a fan of reading on my iPhone—the screen is too small.

But I’m a huge fan of the Kindle, and I’m at the point where if I have the choice of a print book or an ebook, I’ll almost always choose the ebook.


  • It’s lighter and easier to hold than a print book.
  • I can adjust the font size if necessary.
  • It’s easier—I can hold the Kindle and turn the pages all with one hand.
  • Even at full price, an ebook is around half the price of buying the print book in New Zealand.
  • I have access to a wider range of books—the fiction range in my local Christian bookstore is pitifully small in comparison.
  • I have access to free ebooks because I’m a reviewer.

There are some books I still prefer to read in print form:

  • The Bible
  • Reference books such as the dictionary or style manuals (not that I “read” those like one would read a novel!)
  • Non-fiction books such as books on writing craft (although I still read a lot of those on Kindle, either because I get review copies or because of the relative cost of the print book vs. the ebook.

What about you? Do you read print books, ebooks, or both? Let me know in the comments.

What Easter-themed book has inspired you?

Bookish Question #51 | What Easter-themed book has inspired you?

As we discussed in last week’s Bookish Question, I’m not the best person to ask about Easter-themed books. I couldn’t think of any novels with Easter as a key time setting or plot point.

This leaves non-fiction: the original Easter stories in the four gospels, and their derivatives. I’m sure everyone knows various children’s versions of the Easter story, either those you read as a child or those you read your children.

The one I remember best was a book I was awarded from Bible in Schools when I was in primary school. It was a cartoon version of the life of Jesus, a great choice for a child who came from a non-Christian home and first heard the gospel from dedicated Bible in Schools teachers whose names I don’t remember. God bless you, ladies. So I guess that’s the Easter-themed book that has inspired and influenced me more than any other.

What about you? What Easter-themed book has inspired you?

Do you know of any novels featuring Easter?

Bookish Question #50 | Do you know of any novels featuring Easter?

There are plenty of Christian novels (and general market novels) set around the Christmas season. We discussed some back in Bookish Question #38. There are also many—especially romance novels—that feature Valentine’s Day, which we discussed in Bookish Question #45.

But Easter? There should be plenty, especially Christian novels.

Holy Week and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the central aspects of our faith, so you would think someone had thought to write a novel using the background of Easter as a theme. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s too obvious, because I can’t think of any titles.

What about you? Do you know of any Christian novels featuring Easter as a key time setting or plot point?

Are you a reader or a writer or both?

Bookish Question #49 | Are you a reader or a writer or both?

I’m both, although it took me several years and hundreds of book reviews to admit I actually am a writer. I write in three main areas:

Book Reviews

I have 1,000 posts on my original book review blog, Iola’s Christian Reads, although they aren’t all book reviews. I have dozens more here, and at blogs such as Australasian Christian Writers and International Christian Fiction Writers. I used to guest review at Suspense Sisters Reviews, but the blog was closed, so I’ll be reposting those reviews over the next few months as well.

If you want to know what I read, sign up for my newsletter in the box on the right, and I’ll send you a list of my favourite authors.

Writing about Writing

I’m also a freelance fiction editor, so I write about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing at my website, Christian Editing Services, and at Australasian Christian Writers.

Contemporary Christian Romance

I’m also writing my own fiction … kind of. I’m currently in the pre-editing procrastination phase. I’ll get there!

So are you a writer, a reader, or both?

Let me know in the comments, or pop over to Australasian Christian Writers and join the conversation!

Which Christian books have you recommended to a friend?

Bookish Question #48: Which Christian books have you recommended to a friend?

Lots! I am a book blogger, after all. A lot of my reviews are recommendations, although they’re often recommendations to the world at large rather than to specific friends.

So which Christian books have I recommended most recently?

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

Recommended to friends looking for a fun contemporary romance read, but one that’s both 100% Christian and 100% set in the real world with fallen people where not everyone is a Christian. Click here to read my review.

Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon

Recommended to someone looking for a Christian book that’s not a romance, and that makes the reader think.

I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, so haven’t reviewed it. But you can check out this review from Natalie McNee at Australasian Writers.


Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

Atonement Child is a classic story from the author of Redeeming Love, and A Voice in the Wind. It’s about a college student who falls pregnant after being raped (skip Chapter One if that bothers you), and who has to fight to keep her baby. It’s a challenging read, but it’s an encouraging read for people who are hurting. It also has the dubious honour of the book I loan out and never get back. I’ve now bought it three times. Yes, it’s that good.

Which Christian books have you recommended to a friend?

Let me know in the comments, then pop over to Australasian Christian Writers and join in the conversation!