Tag: bookish question

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?

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?

Bookish QUestion: Have you planned a summer reading list?

Bookish Question #82 | Have you planned a summer reading list?

Umm … No 🙂

My reading plan is generally which books I have in my reviewing pile.

Beyond that, it’s which book in my Kindle to-read folder takes my fancy, or which book on my actual reading pile catches my attention.

I do have a pile of books I’ve mean meaning to read for a while, but I suspect many of them are too deep and serious to read over summer (e.g. Francine Rivers or Lisa Wingate). I’ll probably read a mix of light contemporary romance mixed in with the occasional historical romance (especially Regency), and a few romantic suspense or cozy mysteries for good measure.

What about you? Have you planned a summer reading list? What are you planning—or hoping—to read?

Where would you like to "visit" in a novel?

Bookish Question #81 | Where would you like to “visit” in a novel?

I’m lucky in that I’ve travelled to over 25 countries, and around 20 US states … which means I’ve already visited many of the places I’d otherwise like to visit in a novel. But there’s also places I’d like to visit again in fiction …

Here are three places I’d like to visit in a novel:


Iceland is a beautiful country, but it’s cold and dark for a lot of the year, and it’s a long way from New Zealand. I’d love to visit Iceland. One day! In the meantime, it would be great to read a Christian novel set in Iceland. Any suggestions?


I’ve read a few novels set in India (e.g. the Silk trilogy by Linda Chaikin, and the Twilight of the British Raj trilogy by Christine Lindsay). It’s a fascinating country, and I’d like to know more about India. Have you read any great Christian fiction set in India?


My father’s family are Welsh, as is my name (Iola means valued by the Lord). But I rarely come across Christian fiction with a Welsh setting, and I’d like to see more. The ones I have read have had Welsh settings but haven’t featured Welsh characters—that’s something I’d like to read. Do you have any suggestions?

What about you? Where would you like to visit in a novel?

Which lesser-known Christian authors do you wish more readers knew about?

Bookish Question #80 | Which lesser-known Christian authors do you wish more readers knew about?

It’s easy to find out about the big-name authors in Christian publishing.

Think Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. It’s not hard to find out about some of the middle rank—the authors whose books you see reviewed, or you find on the shelf of your local Christian bookstore.

But, as a reader, it can be harder to find out about the lesser-known Christian authors.

It’s equally hard—or harder—for those authors to find readers.

I try and feature some lesser-known Christian authors on my blog, either through book reviews, author interviews, or First Line Friday posts. But I still have to find out about them somehow, and that’s often through them contacting me to request a review or interview.

Anyway, here’s my completely biased list of ten lesser-known Christian authors I suggest you watch out for:

What do you think? Which lesser-known Christian author do you wish more readers knew about?

Do you participate in online reader groups?

Bookish Question #79 | Do you participate in online reader groups?

We’ve all heard of book clubs, but did you know there are also online versions?

I’m a member of several online reader groups, but the two I follow most closely are both Facebook groups: Avid Readers of Christian Fiction, and Inspy Romance. As you’d expect, both specialise in Christian fiction (however published).

I’m also involved in a couple of reader/writer groups: Australasian Christian Writers (which posts a book review each Thursday), and International Christian Fiction Writers. Both are open to readers and writers from anywhere.

Some of the groups (e.g. Avid readers) also have a nominated book of the month, and an author-hosted discussion towards the end of the month. But I haven’t actually participated in any of the discussions … There are also a lot of reader groups on Goodreads. Again, many have books of the month which they discuss, but I haven’t participated.

This is sometimes because I’ve either already read and reviewed the book, or because it’s not a book I’m interested in. More often, it’s because I forget, or because I already have so many books on my reviewing pile that I don’t want to add another.

What about you? Do you participate in online reader groups? Which groups?

Have you discovered any new authors from my blog?

Bookish Question #78 | Have you discovered any new authors from my blog?

I mostly find new authors by browsing NetGalley (for traditionally published books), or by following other book bloggers (for self-published and small press books). And I discover a lot of new authors from the blogs—especially from the First Line Friday blog hop I take part in each week.

New authors I’ve discovered this year from other authors and bloggers include CC Warrens (the Holly trilogy) and
Bell Renshaw (As Easy as Riding a Bike). There are a lot of others, but they are still languishing in my to-read pile!

Have you discovered any new authors from my blog? Which authors and books?