Blogging Hiatus

Dear readers, you may have noticed I didn’t write a blog post in June. Until a week ago, I was still hoping to catch up and continue. But life has become very busy (strange in these lockdown times, I know) and I am giving myself the permission to let Two Books go, at least for a while. All the busyness is due to good things, by the way, so no need to worry.

I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll be leaving all the previous posts up on the site for any newcomers. Wishing you the best in the meantime, and happy reading!

Reading Challenge 2021

I love a good challenge, and the one I completed last year led me to read several 5-star books I might not have come across otherwise, so I was excited to set myself another one for this year. After much thought (and coffee) I decided not to participate in a year-long challenge but to mix it up a bit by setting myself monthly reading goals. They’re mostly quite broad and I’m giving myself the option to double-up – that is, use one book to meet two challenges if I choose to. So here they are – my 9 monthly reading goals for 2021.

1.Read at least one book from my shelves

This means a physical book that I already own.
I don’t have hundreds of unread books on my shelves like some people seem to , but I have more than enough to last a year, and some of them have been gathering dust for a long time. I chose to buy them, so I’m going to read them.

2.Read at least one book from my Kindle

Again, there are at least a dozen books waiting on my Kindle and I want to start whittling them down. I have 3 months of Kindle Unlimited, so I can download a heap more and give myself plenty of choice. As part of this, I’ve decided to take my Kindle along whenever I know I’ll need to wait somewhere on my own for a while, like at a doctor’s appointment.

3.Read at least one book from my library

I am a huge supporter of public libraries and I love mine. I used to read so many library books, but it has trailed off a bit and I intend to change that. I already have a whole list of books I want to read that are held in my library, so I have no excuse.

4.Read one Middle Grade book

This is a challenge I’ve never done before. I mostly read adult fiction, with the occasional YA, but I haven’t read much Middle Grade for many years. However, there are some great books out there, and I am toying with the idea of writing for Middle Grade at some point, so I need to do my research. Besides, I expect this to be fun.

5.Participate in one Group or Buddy Read

I am part of the Epic Fantasy group on Goodreads and I read Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy with them last year. It was great having online discussions about the books and I want to continue this year. They do both Group Reads and Buddy Reads and I’ve signed on for a couple already for 2021.

6.Read one book that meets a random challenge

This is a little hard to explain, but I know what I mean.😁 Each month I am going to choose a random challenge – it might be based on a blogger or Youtuber’s TBR challenge or I might draw slips of paper out of a container or whatever I feel like at the time. For example, in January I wrote down ten criteria like ‘a book with a blue cover’ and ‘the highest rated book on my Goodreads Want to Read List’, etc and then randomly chose one of them and found a book to meet it. For February I picked a TBR game on Youtube and had to meet the first challenge that came up there. This is the only category where I don’t get to strictly choose any book I like, so I felt it was good to include it. And also, again, fun.

7.Read in at least three genres

Pretty self-explanatory. I can read in any genres I choose, but I must include at least three every month. This is because I realised that several months last year I only read two different genres and I want to branch out a bit more. Four would be better, but I’m being kind to myself and saying at least three.

8.Read at least four books

I expect to read more than forty-eight books in total in 2021 but I had a couple of reading slumps last year and want to hold myself to reading a bit more consistently. So four books every month is the minimum. If I’m really struggling, they can include novellas or other short-form writing.

9.Read at least 1500 pages

This is pushing myself a bit harder than last year, when I read an average of about 1200 pages a month, but I do enjoy long books and the complex story and character arcs they allow, so I’m happy to push. This is probably the challenge I’m least confident of meeting, but I’m giving it a go.

So there they are: my 9 monthly reading challenges for 2021. Spoiler alert: I already met all of them in January, so I’m off to a good start. Do you like challenging yourself as a motivation to read? If so, what are your reading challenges for this year?

A love letter to Australia

This is not a bookish post, but as an Australian I just had to share this beautiful article by Sandy Barker. Enjoy.

Off the Beaten Track

It is Australia Day 2020. January 26th is a contentious date, because it marks the arrival of the First Fleet―the first European settlers who arrived in Australia in 1788.

Of course, by commemorating this date, Australia ignores that in 1788 we were already populated by hundreds of nations of Indigenous Australians forming the world’s oldest civilisation.

This post isn’t about whether or not we should change the date of Australia Day, although we should. This post is a love letter to my home, my country, my Australia.

My Australia

My Australia is the person at the tram stop who sees that you’re lost and gives you directions with a smile. My Australia is the person at the party who draws the introverts into conversation, and makes sure everyone is heard. My Australia has a hearty sense of humour―often bawdy, always self-deprecating, and sometimes a defence mechanism.

My Australia has skin…

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COVER REVEAL – CHRISTMAS AUSTRALIS: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine Jingling Tales!

My first cover reveal! And this one is especially thrilling for me because I’m one of the authors!

Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine-Jingling Tales brings together eight stories that reflect the Australian experience of Christmas: a summer celebration, typically spent at the beach or under the air conditioner, eating seafood and tossing down icy drinks. But even under the bright Aussie sun, darkness might be lurking…


WWW Wednesday

Hello, my friends!

Happy Spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere like me, and Happy Autumn/Fall for you northies.

I am so busy at the moment getting my first novel ready for publication in February (yay!) and learning all about categories, keywords, mailing lists, cover designers, formatting, etc etc that I don’t have time for a long post today. So the WWW Wednesday tag seems ideal.

This tag is hosted on Taking on a World of Words It’s easy to do, just answer the three questions below!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?


Speculative Fiction Festival at Writing NSW

Saturday 29th June 2019, Writing NSW, Callan Park, Lilyfield

So how was Spec Fic 19?

In a word, enthralling. This was my first time at this one-day festival about all things writing, and I absolutely loved it. I was so absorbed that I didn’t even take any photos, so this post is going to be text only. But if you’d like to see some pictures, you’ll find lots if you search for the hashtag #SpecFic19 on Twitter.

The day began with early morning mist shrouding the old buildings. Very atmospheric and appropriate, especially for the horror writers. There was coffee ready on the verandah, hot and very strong. I was going to need that caffeine. I filled my keep cup and headed inside.


Review: The Chalk Man

By C.J.Tudor

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5 STARS

It’s been a long time since a book hooked me so quickly and so thoroughly from the first page. And I’m not sure I’ve ever given 5 stars to a straight thriller before. So there’s a recommendation for you!

The Chalk Man is the story of Eddie and his friends and is told using two timelines. In 1986 they are teenagers living in an English village, biking around together and using chalk drawings of stick figures as a kind of code for each other. Until something shocking happens. In 2016, Eddie returns to the village in response to receiving a drawing of a stick man in the mail. He soon discovers he has to figure out what really happened in the past before he can understand and survive what’s happening now.

It’s a great setup and Tudor handles it beautifully. Both timelines are fully engaging and I was on the edge of my seat more than once. The atmosphere of menace is so well done, without ever slipping over into cheap sensationalism.