Tag: bookish question

How many books do you read in a year?

Bookish Question #46 | How Many Books Do You Read In a Year?

How many books do you read in a year? How do you keep track?

I honestly never used to track how many books I read (or re-read) until I discovered Goodreads and the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge. I always knew I read a lot—more than most people I knew. Even in high school, I could read a book in a day. Or two, if it was Saturday. I just managed to keep my addiction fed between the school library and the town library.

Then I went to university, and my recreational reading dropped off. I lived in the university halls of residence, which meant a lot less alone time for reading, and a lot less access to books. And a lot more homework—which included reading loooonnnnggg textbooks.

I started reading fiction again after I finished university and learned Christian fiction existed.

I’d grown out of young adult fiction, and realised I didn’t necessarily like grown-up fiction because of the prevalence of bad language, sex, and violence. But I did make my way through most of the classics of British literature (which are much more interesting if you’re not having to write essays on symbolism and the metaphorical conceit). I also read many books from authors like Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt—older writers who didn’t see need for the content I didn’t care to read.

Later, I discovered Christian fiction.

Then Amazon. Then ebooks (Kobo first, then Kindle). And Goodreads, and the annual Reading Challenge. I discovered Goodreads in 2010, and have participated in the Reading Challenge each year from 2011. My annual “target” has varied between 150 and 200 books a year, and I’ve “won” every year.

That pales into insignificance next to some of the readers I’ve met online, who read a book a day or more (some read over 500 a year. And they review many of them as well). Many have notebooks of books read that go back decades. I am not and have never been that organised.

But I can manage to keep my Goodreads Reading Challenge up to date. More or less—there is usually a last-minute 31 December rush to include the books I’ve read over my summer break (I live in New Zealnd, remember. That means my summer break starts on Christmas Day!).

I will admit that my 2017 figures include some books I didn’t actually finish. I figure that if I start and read at least 10%, and that’s not enough to grab me, then I’m better marking it as read rather than having the book hang around on some virtual “am reading” pile for half of forever.

What about you? How many books do you read in a year, and how do you keep track?

What’s your favourite book featuring Valentine’s Day?

Bookish Question #45: What’s your favourite book featuring Valentine’s Day?

I’m a romance reader and writer, so I should have a stack of books I’ve read and enjoyed that feature Valentine’s Day. Yet I can’t think of a single title.

I suspect there are two reasons why.

First is that Valentine’s Day isn’t the big deal in New Zealand that it is in the US. Well, it wasn’t when I was a child. I remember reading US books as a child and teenager where Valentine’s Day was a big thing, where children made Valentine’s Day cards in school for all the children in their class.

That was completely foreign—perhaps because 14 February is only two weeks after the start of the new school year, and teachers want to teach while the children are still fresh and keen to learn. There will be plenty of time for crafts later in the year, when everyone is tired.

Later, the reason became the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day even here in New Zealand. It places unnecessary pressure on singles and couples. And it places unnecessary emphasis on a single day, which isn’t enough. Love and marriage are for a lifetime, not a day.

So I don’t have a favourite book featuring Valentine’s Day. What can you recommend?

What books are you hoping to read in 2018?

Bookish Question #44 | What books are you hoping to read in 2018?

My to-read pile falls into three main categories:

1. Review books

2. Writing craft books

3. Books I’ve bought and haven’t read yet

I can’t share my whole list in each category, so I’ll just share the three I’m most looking forward to reading!


The review books I’m most looking forward to are:

Winning Miss Winthrop by Carolyn Miller (and the two sequels). I love Regency romance, and I love Christian fiction. Carolyn Miller weaves the two beautifully.

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh, because I loved Just Look Up so much. Just Let Go is scheduled to release in June.

If I Live by Terri Blackstock, because I loved If I Run and If I’m Found, and I need to know what happens! (This is one of those rare trilogies where each story follows the same main character, so the books have to be read in order).

I have a stack of writing books to read, including:

The Emotional Wound Thesarus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

Then there is the embarrassingly large pile of Kindle books I’ve paid money for and haven’t yet read. Top of the pile are:

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof, because it won all the best book prizes and I seem to be the only person who hasn’t read it yet. Mind you, I haven’t read The Shack either.

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal, because Narelle Atkins raved about it and I absolutely loved the last book Narelle raved about (The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce). And I won a paperback copy from the author!

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers because it’s by Francine Rivers and I haven’t read it yet. Why not? I don’t know.

So what books are you hoping to read in 2018?

Book Chat #42 | What’s your favourite real life setting in a novel?

Some novels make up their settings, while others use real-life places.

There is a danger in using real-life settings, in that authors have to get them right (or acknowledge when they have taken artistic liberties), as readers like accuracy … especially in settings they know.

I live in New Zealand and I mostly read Christian fiction.

Most novels are set in the United States, often in small towns (real or made-up). The result is I’ve read very few novels where I know the setting. But I’d like to read more 🙂

My absolute favourite real-life setting is Hobbiton, which has the curious distinction of being a made-up setting (in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien), and a real-life setting in Close to You by Kara Isaac. Yes, Hobbiton is now a real-life tourist attraction not far from where I live. My husband and I will occasionally take a drive to have brunch at The Shire’s Rest Cafe, which serves an excellent Second Breakfast. No, we don’t do the full tour (that costs money). But it’s a great place to stop for lunch.

Another favourite setting—and one which gets used more often than New Zealand—is London. I lived in London for ten years, so I enjoy novels with a modern London setting, such as London Tides by Carla Laureano. I also enjoy Regency romances and historical romances, many of which feature London as a setting.

And one final favourite setting is Aberystwyth, Wales, the main setting for A Song Unheard by Roseanna M White. Why Aberystwyth? Because it’s where I was born, and it’s a unique setting. I haven’t spent much time in the city, as I left Wales and emigrated to New Zealand as a pre-schooler. So I enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of Roseanna M White’s fictional characters.

What’s your favourite real-life setting in a novel?

Book Chat 41

Book Chat #41 | What Books are You Hoping to Read Over The Summer Holidays?

It’s halfway through January and while my children still have several weeks left of their summer holidays, my husband is back at work. We did get away for a short summer holiday, and we’ve also spent several Saturdays at the beach (perfect for reading!). And I’ve read a few books …

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

Death at Thornburn Hall by Julianna Deering

If I Live by Terri Blackstock

Of course, there are still a few more on my to-read pile that I’d like to finish before the end of summer …

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

Second Chances for Trampled Hearts by Shoshanna Gabriel

So which books have you read (or are hoping to read) over the summer holidays?

Book Chat

Book Chat #40 | Are you doing a reading challenge in 2018?

I have participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the last six years. I’ve committed to read between 150 and 200 books each year, and have succeeded … although some years it was down to the last couple of days and relied on a fair few novellas or short non-fiction books. I kind-of cheated last year and included books I started and gave up on, because if I start a book three times and still can’t finish it, I’m never going to finish it. So I count it as read.

I’ve tried other reading challenges over the last few years, with less success. I tried a Mt TBR Challenge a couple of times. Mt TBR is Goodreads shorthand for the mountain of unread books many of us own (To Be Read). The first year I attempted to climb Mt TBR, I met my low goal of two books a month, a win made less impressive by the number of books I added to Mt TBR during the year.

I tried again the following year, with a more ambitious goal, and fell by the wayside by around March. My excuse was there were too many good new books to read.

Another year I tried a challenge where we had to read books that fit various categories. This was fun for the first nine months, but then I got towards the end of the year and realised that while I’d chosen books that fit all the remaining criteria, I didn’t have any interest in reading them. So I quit because spending time reading books I didn’t want to read when there were other books I did want to read seemed silly.

I’ve signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge again for 2018. I’m aiming for 180 books, the same as in 2017 (which I did achieve, although I cheated a little by including those books I didn’t finish). No conditions. No specific genres to read (although I will be reviewing a contemporary Christian romance novel here each week, and guest reviewing historical or non-romance novels at Australian Christian Writers and International Christian Fiction Writers).

I’m also doing a read the Bible in a year challenge with an online group. I’ve completed this twice before, but fell away in the middle of 2017 because of a lack of accountability. I’m looking forward to reading the Bible with a group of new friends. (Although it would be a lot easier for my Goodreads challenge if the Bible counted as 66 books, not one!)

What about you? Are you doing a reading challenge in 2018? Which one, and how many books are you aiming for?

Did you receive any books for Christmas?

Book Chat #39 | Did you receive any books for Christmas?

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and are ready to jump into 2018. I am!

I’m making a couple of minor changes here on the blog. The main one you’ll notice is that I’m publishing a book review on Monday instead of my Bookish Question. And the Bookish Question has now become a Tuesday Book Chat, in association with Australasian Christian Writers. We’re hoping to get more people involved, and we’ll share a little more about that later.

Anyway, here’s our first question for 2018:

Did you receive any books for Christmas?

I gave some books. My mother asked for the latest historical novel from Alison Weir, which was easy. My children asked for the new edition of the Official Scrabble dictionary which includes words like “twerk”, “emoji” and “emoticon”. Sigh. And I bought my husband Artemis, the new novel from Andy Weir, author of The Martian. He isn’t a big reader but he enjoyed The Martian, so I hope he’ll like Artemis as well.

And I will admit to treating myself to a few Kindle books over the Christmas holidays. Weird story. I signed up for a free service called Down Notifier, which sends you an email if your website goes down—something that’s handy to know (says me, the victim of a hacker attack which destroyed my site a couple of years ago).

Anyway, Down Notifier emailed me and offered me a $20 Amazon US gift voucher for reviewing their service. It’s a good service, so posting a review was no problem. Sure enough, a week or so later, I got an email offering me the choice of a $20 Amazon gift voucher, or $20 via PayPal. I chose the voucher, and bought:

I also pre-ordered Surgeon’s Choice by Richard Mabry, which releases this week. But that only uses up half my voucher (thanks to pre-Christmas sales!).

So did you receive any books for Christmas? (And yes, buying yourself books totally counts!) Share in the comments!

Don’t forget to pop over to Australasian Christian Writers as well!

What's your favourite Christmas novel?

Bookish Question #38 | What’s your favourite Christmas novel?

I’m not going to ask your favourite Christmas story.

It’s probably the same as mine: the gospel story of how God sent his only son to earth, and how he was born in a manger in Bethlehem. Although I suppose you might have a preference for Matthew over Luke. Or vice versa.

I don’t know that Jesus was actually born on 25 December. Odds are, he wasn’t (and if he was, we should celebrate Christmas Day on 6 January, like the Eastern Orthodox Christians have since the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar back in the 1700’s).

It’s not important what day Jesus was born. What is important, as far as I’m concerned, is that we celebrate His birth with our families, with our friends, and with our church fellowships.

That we remember the birth of Jesus as a physical sign of the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

As we discussed last week, a lot of novels and novellas are set around Christmas. Some are Christian novels, so are able to emphasise the spiritual importance of the occasion. Some are general market novels—isn’t it great that non-believers still chose to celebrate our Christian holy days? Even several of the Harry Potter novels, often maligned by Christians, still have Christmas right at the centre of the novel.

What’s your favourite Christmas novel (or novella)? Why?

Next Monday is Christmas Day, so I won’t be posting. Instead, I’ll be enjoying the day with my family, and remembering our Saviour. May God bless you and your family over this Christmas season.

Do you enjoy reading Christmas stories?

Bookish Question #37 | Do you enjoy reading Christmas stories?

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas stories.

That’s mostly because I live in the Southern Hemisphere, which means our Christmas celebration marks the beginning of our summer holidays. Christmas is different Down Under.

I know a lot of people enjoy reading Christmas novels, perhaps because it gets them into the spirit of the Christmas season.

We don’t have snow. We have sand. At the beach.

We don’t have roaring log fires. Instead, we have the air con going full blast.

We don’t drink mulled wine (whether the alcoholic or non-alcoholic version). Who wants hot spiced wine in the middle of summer? Instead, we drink iced soft drinks—although it’s more likely to be Coca-cola or L&P than iced tea.

We might have the traditional Christmas dinner: roast turkey, ham, potatoes, kumera (the Maori name for sweet potatoes). And fresh asparagus—it’s in season. But we might also have a barbecue at home or on the beach. After all, it’s summer. Who wants to spend the day in a hot, steamy kitchen?

So I hope you can see why the traditional Christmas story doesn’t really appeal to me.

The one Christmas collection I did enjoy was the Aussie Summer Christmas novella collection. It’s no longer available as a collection, but the individual novellas are for sale on Kindle. They are:

Seaside Christmas by Narelle Atkins
A Christmas Resolution by Rose Dee
All is Bright by Andrea Grigg
Falling for Maddie Grace by Meredith Resce (I’m not a sports fan, but this was one of my favourites)
Melbourne Memories by Marion Ueckermann
Santa Next Door by Lacy Williams

What about you? Do you enjoy reading Christmas stories?

Which Bible translation do you prefer?

Bookish Question #36 | Which Bible translation do you prefer?


Isn’t it ironic that something that’s so central to our faith can divide us?

The first Bible I ever read belonged to my great grandmother—a King James Version. I was about eight years old, and although I could read the words (and I was the best reader in my Sunday School class), I was never chosen to read the Bible story of the week out loud to the class. I soon worked out it was because while I could read all the words in the King James Bible, my classmates didn’t understand them.

I’ve had similar experiences as a Sunday School teacher in the years since, meeting children who could quote the King James chapter and verse, but didn’t actually know what the words meant. (One thought King James had written it himself.)

That, to me, isn’t enough. Sure, we need to able to read accurately. But we also need to be able to comprehend what we are reading. Otherwise, what is the point? We’re parroting, not learning.

That’s not to say we can’t learn anything from the King James Version. We’ve recently got a new pastor in church, and he preaches from the King James. We asked why. Simple: it’s the one he is most comfortable reading,because it’s the closest to his native language of Icelandic.

Our retired pastor reads from the Amplifed Version (I guess he likes the extra information). My Jewish Christian friend reads the Complete Jewish Bible. I prefer the New International Version (UK edition, because it uses “proper” spelling). I like the NIV because the vocabulary and meanings are contemporary—I don’t feel I have to translate them.

To see what I mean, read 1 Corinthians 13 in the King James and the NIV. I can see the link between love and charity. But charity in 2018 usually means a financial donation to a cause. The meaning of the word has changed.

But I do find there are passages which feel more lyrical in the King James (or New King James). Especially in the Psalms.

What about you? What Bible translation do you prefer? Why?