Category: Bookish Question

Do you have a book budget? Do you stick to it?

Bookish Question #92 | Do you have a book budget? Do you stick to it?

No, I don’t have a book budget, although perhaps I should.

However, I don’t spend a lot on books because most of the books I buy are Kindle versions, especially when it comes to fiction (which is most of what I buy). The only novels I regularly buy in paperback are those I’ve edited (when the authors don’t gift them to me). I like owning the paperback when it’s something I’ve worked on!

I do buy non-fiction books in paperback or hardcover. They are reference books, and I find it’s easier to read and highlight paperbacks, or to search through physical copies of style manuals.

My enormous to-read pile means I try not to buy books (try!) because I already have so many I’ve bought and haven’t read. And it seems wrong to buy more books when I haven’t read the ones I already have.

What about you? Do you have a book budget? Do you stick to it?

Should Christians read fiction? Why ... or why not?

Bookish Question #91 | Should Christians read fiction? Why … or why not?

Yes, some people honestly believe Christians shouldn’t read fiction. After all, they say, fiction is made up and Christians should be focused on truth. Christ’s Truth.

I agree Christians should focus on truth.

But Christ told stories—the parables. Preachers often tell stories—they call them sermon illustrations. Non-fiction writers often tell stories to make a point.

Writing instructor Lisa Cron says this is because our brains are wired for story. As Christians, we believe God wired our brains, not evolution. So if our brains are wired for story, why would listening to or reading stories be wrong?

So, yes, I believe it’s all right for Christians to read fiction.

But not all fiction. And perhaps not all Christians.

The Bible tells us “whatever is right, whatever is pure” (Phil 4:8). I believe this should apply to our reading. What we read can influence what we think and what we believe, so we need to be sure we’re not subconsciously adopting unChristian values and beliefs based on what we read. We may also need to be wary of the sexual content of the fiction we read (Song of Songs), or excessive violence.

Also, not all things are good for all people.

Paul tells Timothy it’s all right to take a little wine occasionally on account of his stomach, but that’s not a license for Christians to get drunk. Indeed, those who are susceptible to alcoholism or addiction would be better to avoid wine or other alcohol, because they can’t stop at “a little”.

Equally, people with some health issues shouldn’t drink alcohol, either because alcohol makes the problem worse, or because the prescribed medication shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol. But that doesn’t make “don’t drink alcohol” into a blanket rule for everyone.

In the same way, there may be some Christians who shouldn’t read fiction—whether that’s general market fiction, Christian fiction, erotica, romance, violent thrillers. But that doesn’t make it a blanket rule for all Christians. The key is to listen to God and be obedient to His calling. If he calls us to not drink alcohol for a year or for life, we should give up alcohol. The same goes for coffee, or chocolate. Or books.

I suspect some of the Christians who say Christians shouldn’t read fiction are those who’ve had a personal directive from God, but who have mistakenly thought it applies to all Christians, not just to them. They shouldn’t read Christian fiction, but that doesn’t apply to everyone.

What do you think? Should Christians read fiction? Why, or why not?

Are you doing a reading challenge in 2019?

Bookish Question #90 | Are you Doing a Reading Challenge in 2019?

Are you doing a reading challenge in 2019?

If so, which challenge are you doing? What are you challenging yourself to read?

I’ve participated in—and completed—the Goodreads Reading Challenge every year since 2011, although my self-selected target has been higher some years than others.

For 2018, I’m aiming for a lower target than 2018: 150 books read. However, this will only include books I actually finish—last year’s total included a bunch of books I started and didn’t finish for various reasons (mostly bad writing, bad editing, or characters I didn’t connect with). I included them on my Goodreads Read list because I didn’t know any other way to get them off my Currently Reading list … but now I do*, so I’ll be deleting DNF books from my Goodreads shelf rather instead.

*To delete a book: go to your My Books table, find the book, and select the cross at the end of the line. That will delete the book from all your shelves, and will also delete your review.

I also have some other self-imposed reading challenges:

Trim the Currently Reading List

Goodreads tells me I have around 50 books on my Currently Reading list. I’d like to get that down to below five (which more accurately represents the number of books I’m reading at once—a novel, a book on writing or marketing, the Bible, and maybe another non-fiction book).

Climb Mt TBR (To Be Read)

I have an enormous pile of unread books (ebook and paperback), so I’ve joined the Mt TBR challenge on Goodreads, and am hoping to clear 48 or more books from my To Read pile. The rules of this challenge are that I have to have owned the book before 1 January 2019 (so no review copies), and have to have read less than 25% of it before the start of the year. I don’t have to finish the books for them to count—deciding I don’t like the book and don’t want to finish it still means it’s off that To Read mountain.

Read Indie

I’d like to read more indie books this year. Reviewing means I tend to prioritise review copies, which are often from the major publishers. I saw one of the admins of the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook group said she’s going to try to ensure 25% of the books she reads in 2019 are from indie authors. I’m going to aim for 40, which is a little over that 25% mark.

Read New-to-me and Debut Authors

I’d also like to read more new-to-me authors (which includes debut authors). It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of reading all the same authors all the time. Again, I’m going to aim for 40 books from new-to-me authors.

Read Writing Craft

I also want to continue to upskill myself in writing, editing, publishing, and marketing, so I’d like to read more books in those areas. My sensible side says one a month, I have dozens in my To Read pile (and even more I’d like to buy).

Note that some books will count for more than one challenge, and it’s even possible for a book to count towards all four!

Are you doing a reading challenge in 2019? If so, which challenge are you doing? What are you challenging yourself to read? #BookishQuestion #BookWorm Click To Tweet

Are you committing to a reading challenge for 2019? If so, what?

Bookish Question: What questions should I ask in 2019?

Bookish Question #89 | What questions should I ask in 2019?

It’s the end of the year—well, almost.

Next Tuesday is Christmas Day, so this is my last Bookish Tuesday post for the year.

I’ve been writing a weekly Bookish Question post since April 2017. I’ve asked (and answered) 87 questions, and I’ve received hundreds of answers. Some people answer on the blog, but most answer on social media—Facebook, Twitter, and (especially) Instagram.

Answers have varied from short and pithy (well Twitter only allowed 140 characters when I started), to long and far more detailed (usually here on the blog). It seems people like the idea. Australasian Christian Writers started a weekly Book Chat post at the beginning of 2018, and I’m one of the two hosts for that post, asking and answering the same question as here on my blog.

Now it’s time to consider what questions we should ask in 2019.

Here are some of the questions I’ve asked over the last two years:

Bookish Questions

So what else would you like to know, from me and from your fellow readers?

Do you want to answer the questions?

If you want to join in the fun by blogging your answer to the question each week, you can!

Email me via my Contact page here on the website, and I’ll forward you the list of questions for 2019 early in the New Year. You can then add your link to the ACW post each week, and share on social media. It’s a great way to get people talking!

Bookish Question #88 | What are your Top Ten Reads for 2018?

What are your Top Ten Reads for 2018?
Every year I volunteer to write a Top Ten post … and every year I regret it. How can I possibly condense a year of reading into ten books? Last year I decided to cheat a little, and posted only my top ten contemporary Christian romance reads.
I’m cheating again this year. I’ve already posted my five favourite new-to-me authors, and my top five romance read. So today’s post (which is cross-posted at Australasian Christian Writers) is my top ten Christian reads, excluding romance.

Strategem by Robin Carroll

An excellent thriller with a unique hook: a woman dies playing an escape room-type game designed by her husband, which makes him the prime suspect. He didn’t do it, so who did?Click here to read my review.

Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

An infertile woman working in a pregnancy support clinic is counselling the woman pregnant to her unfaithful husband … only none of them know it. A gripping novel which explores those problem areas where there are no right answers.

Click here to read my review.

Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon

Grace in the Shadows is a poignant and thought-provoking novel from Australian author and missionary Christine Dillon, one that is designed to challenge our thinking at the same time as giving us a good story with great characters.

Click here to read a review by Fiction Aficionado.

Life After by Katie Ganshert

What would you do if you were the sole survivor of a train accident that killed twenty-two people … but you can’t remember it? That’s the premise of this gripping and emotional novel.

Click here to read my review.

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrell

The recipient of a heart transplant meets the donor family, and is challenged to get out and live the life she has been gifted … by ticking off the donor’s bucket list, the 24 things she didn’t get to do before she died.

Click here to read my review.

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

A powerful dual-timeline stories connecting a rare book, a second-hand bookstore, and pre-World War II Austria as Hitler comes to power and begins his persecution of the Jews. Plenty of twists and tragedy.

Click here to read my review.


Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

Charles Martin novels always pack an emotional punch, and send down the rain is no exception. Yes, there’s a slow build, but the payoff is more than worth it in this exploration of love, loyalty, and family, a story of sacrifice and second chances.

Click here to read my review.

No Less Days by Amanda G Stevens

David Galloway can’t die. He’s tried, but he can’t. He’s always thought he was alone, but he’s watching TV one day and realises that he isn’t alone … Yes, No Less Days isn’t your typical Christian fiction. It’s more like Forever meets Highlander, part science fiction and part urban fantasy.

Click here to read my review.

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Savannah’s husband of twenty years has left her for another woman, the children are in boarding school and college and don’t need her, so she does what any sensible woman would do: she runs away. It’s a tough yet touching story about what women do when life disappears.

Click here to read my review.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

I seem not to have reviewed this (probably because I bought it, and I’d already filled my reviewing schedule with review copies).

It’s a dual timeline story, with the past timeline telling the story of a family that is broken when the five children are stolen, shipped off to an orphanage, and adopted out. It’s a compelling story, made all the more compelling and horrifying by the knowledge it’s based on the real-life scandal of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.


As I was compiling this post, I realised what all these novels have in common: a great hook.

Yes, they all also have great characters, a strong plot, and excellent writing, but so did a lot of the novels that didn’t make the list. These are the novels that have lived in my memory long past reading them and writing the review … and that’s because of the hook.

Characters placed in unusual and often difficult situations, and being forced to work through issues and problems most of us will never face. Because that’s the attraction of fiction: the way story can teach us how to deal with things in the real world.

So what’s the hook for your work in progress? What challenges do you give your characters?

What about you? What are some of the best novels you’ve read this year? Do your choices have a theme, like mine did?

Which book is on your Christmas list?

Bookish Question | Week 87 | Which book is on your Christmas list?

It’s obvious I didn’t write this question, because there is no way I would have asked which “book” (singular). I definitely would have asked which “books” (plural, with emphasis on the plural. Lots of emphasis).

There are currently 528 books on my Goodreads To Read list, and that doesn’t include a bunch of books I’ve one-clicked on Amazon, or have on pre-order. It also pays no attention to the number of books already on my to-read pile … as in, actual physical paperbacks or ebooks I own and haven’t read yet.

However, my Goodreads list does include several books which don’t release until next year (e.g. the new releases from Kara Isaac, Jessica Kate, Carolyn Miller, David Rawlings, and Becky Wade), so which I can’t possibly put on my Christmas list.

So what does that leave?

That leaves my Book Depository basket, which currently holds a bunch of writing craft books, a couple of paperback pre-orders, and a book I want just for me. But I’ll have to order asap or I’ll miss the pre-Christmas shipping deadline (which is tomorrow).

The book on that list that’s just for me is probably the best answer to this question. It’s Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Have you read it?

What book (or books) are on your Christmas list?

Bookish Question: Do you have a Top 5 list of favourite reads in 2018?

Bookish Question #86 | Do you have a Top 5 list of favourite reads in 2018?

Top five? Are you kidding? Maybe I could come up with a top five list if I didn’t read so many books each year. But probably not (maybe I could do it if I only read six books …)

Anyway, I’ve decided to cheat a little. I posted five new favourite authors for 2018 a couple of weeks ago. I’m posting my Top Ten Reads for 2018 over at Australasian Christian Writers in a couple of weeks. So this post is my completely biased top five romance reads.

Cheating? Probably. #SorryNotSorry.

So here are my Top 5 romance reads for 2018:

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Despite the fact I’m a little over writers as main characters (it’s taking ‘write what you know’ a little too far), I still loved The Saturday Night Supper Club. It was probably all the yummy food … and the fact the ending was unexpected.

Click here to read my review.

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M White

Yes, there is a good number of books set in England. There is a good number of books set during World War I or World War II. But this is the first one set in Wales, in the (small) university city of Aberystwyth, where I was born.

Click here to read my review.

More than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

A heroine with two different colour eyes, and a pet pig. And a hero who tries to rescue her from the pig. It could be stupid to the point of ridiculous, but it’s actually a funny and touching historical romance featuring a wonderful makeshift family.

Click here to read my review.

Made for You by Kara Isaac

Yes, this is a completely biased recommendation, given I edited Made for You and Then There Was You. But I loved it, even though I’m not a reality TV fan (and I especially don’t watch shows like The Bachelor). If you’ve read and enjoyed any of Kara’s earlier books, you won’t want to miss this one.

Click here to read Fiction Aficionado’s review because it says what I would have said.

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

I’ve always been fascinated by ballerina stories (isn’t everyone?) A Season to Dance has plenty of ballet, but that’s actually secondary to a beautiful story of love and redemption.

I somehow haven’t reviewed A Season to Dance, so click here to read a review from Narelle Atkins, who recommended it to me.

Do you have a top 5 list of favourite reads for 2018? Which books are on your list?

Bookish Question #85 | Have you discovered a new favourite author this year?

Bookish Question #85 | Have you discovered a new favourite author this year?

I’ve read a lot of new authors this year, some on the recommendation of friends (usually good), some because they’ve approached me for reviews, and a lot because I’ve found them on NetGalley or Amazon. Some have been great, others have been added to that great did-not-finish pile in the cloud. Here are a few of new favourite authors for 2018:

Nadine Brandes

I subscribed to Nadine’s email list on the recommendation of Jebraun Clifford. This year I read my first Nadine Brandes book, Fawkes, which is a fantasy twist centred around Guido Fawkes (well, his son) and the Gunpowder plot. It’s kind of like reading a novel about the Titanic—you know the broad facts, but that’s it.

Connilyn Cossette

It’s been a while since I’ve read any biblical fiction. A lot of it is written in series, and I’m the kind of reader that wants to start at book one … and won’t read the rest of the series if I didn’t enjoy book one. I read A Light on the Hill because I saw so many bloggers raving about it, and they were all spot on. I have the sequel waiting on my Kindle …

J’nell Ciesielski

J’nell approached me to review her debut novel, Among the Poppies. I agreed because her hero shared a name with my great grandfather, and I’m glad I did. It’s an excellent World War I adventure-romance, and I’m looking forward to reading her next book soon.

Christy Hayes

Christy Hayes is a New York Times bestselling author of New Adult romance. Her current releases are all general market, but if you’re a fan of authors like Kara Isaac, Amy Matayo, and Courtney Walsh, then you’re going to want to keep an eye out for Christy’s next release.

CC Warrens

I read the Criss Cross series on the recommendation of Christine Dillon, author of Grace in Strange Disguise and Grace in the Shadows. Christine is pretty picky, so I paid attention when she recommended Criss Cross, Cross Fire, and Crossed Off. They’re a hard suspense read, but worth the effort.

I think I’ll stop there or I’ll have nothing to write in my upcoming Top Ten Reads for 2018 post!

What new author or authors have you discovered this year?

Bookish Question: How many books have you read in 2018?

Bookish Question #84 | How many books have you read in 2018?

I actually don’t know. I’d set myself a target of 180 books for the 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge, roughly one every other day. I’ve just looked through the list of books I’ve read.

It’s kind of disturbing.

There are a lot of books I remember reading (yay!).

There are the novel or novella collections, which mess with my reading challenge. Does a four-novella collection count as one book or four? Novellas are short, so I’m usually happy to count that as one book, especially if I read them all.

But does a nine-novel collection count as one book or nine? Does it count towards my reading challenge if I read only read five of the books in the collection? (It’s rare that I find a collection where all the stories are compelling enough to keep me reading. I usually end up skipping some.)

There are quite a few books I remember starting and giving up on (boo!) I find the more I read and edit great fiction, the less patience I have for poor writing. But (as best as I can tell) Goodreads won’t take the book off my Am Reading list unless I mark it as read, so it then counts toward my annual total. There might be a way of taking it off my bookshelves completely, but I don’t know if I want to. If it’s on my Read list, then I know not to read it again (or buy it again).

Then there are the books Goodreads says I’ve read, but I can’t remember reading. I guess those are the three-star reads, the ones I didn’t love enough to rave about, and didn’t dislike enough to remember.

So how many books have I read?

As of mid-November, Goodreads says I’ve read 140 books, but I have no idea how many of those were collections (so maybe count as more than one book), or books I started but didn’t finish. Maybe I need a new system for 2019. Any suggestions?

What about you? How many books have you read in 2018?

Bookish Question: Will you buy books as Christmas gifts this year?

Bookish Question #83 | Will you buy books as Christmas gifts this year?

For those of you who are now getting shouty because Who. On. Earth. has started thinking about Christmas shopping in the first week of November … I didn’t set the question. And we have to start thinking about Christmas shopping at some point, or we end up being the last person left in the big box store on Christmas Eve, hoping there is something left worth buying, then resorting to gift vouchers.

So will I be buying books as Christmas gifts?

Kind of. My niece has her birthday shortly after Christmas, and I’ve planned to buy her a book for her birthday which relates to her Christmas present. No, I’m not going to say what I’m buying!

My daughter is currently buying her summer reading list online (she’s a teenager, so that means buying secondhand paperbacks. Yes, she could borrow them for free from the library, but the library doesn’t let you keep the ones you liked.

My mother might ask for a book again—I’ll have to ask her.

I bought my husband two books for Christmas last year, and he’s yet to crack the spine on either. No books for him this year. Most of my other relatives aren’t readers, so no books for them either. I like buying books people will read and enjoy, not books we buy because “everyone” is reading that this year.

So, all in all, I’d have to say no. What about you? Will you be buying books as Christmas gifts this year?