Category Archives: Book Reviews

Why I Read Historical Novels Review

HNReview FebI may not get to it the day it comes in my mailbox, or even the month it comes. I may not read it all. I may even have contemplated dropping my subscription. But as I’ve grown in my historical fiction writing so has the value I see in the Historical Novels Review.

The February issue is a case in point. It starts out with the Publisher’s Message which I always read. I like to hear what this creator of a magazine for a genre I’ve loved forever has to say. In this month’s bit, Richard Lee talks about the mind-yeast he gets from reading non-fiction books. Isn’t that a great word?

Next are a number of short but provocative and insightful articles where the author’s name is highlighted as much as the title. More actually, as there is usually a picture. These authors are a veritable who’s who of historical fiction.

I liked Dr. Jerome De Groot’s aritcle discussing the links between history and historical fiction. Author Nancy Horan says “Writing historical fiction about real people allows me to explore the ‘why’ questions that arise out of the facts of the subjects’ lives’, a perspective that mirrors my own. In writing The Loyalist’s Wife, I was interested in exploring the ways that decisions made by kings and presidents, the higher-ups, affect ordinary people like you and me.

The article which really caught my eye was a tribute to Elizabeth Jane Howard and The Cazalet Chronicle. Lucinda Byatt praises this author of The Light Years, a book I read and loved several years ago, and mentioning others by Howard. I’ll be looking for those titles you may be sure. Sadly, in a footnote, Byatt tells of Howard’s death so there will be no more. I was delighted to read this article about an author who had brought to life for me a family from about 1937-1947. Such a turbulent time. I remember those characters even now and The Light Years is one of the books that made the cut when I downsized my huge library and moved to a smaller space. Reading this article was like going to a party full of strangers and finding a long-lost friend.

After the articles come pages of new historical fiction releases, a wonderful garden of books, divided into centuries. Short reviews of each make picking my next read easy. The only problem is finding the time to read all of the ones I want. Historical fiction is definitely alive and well.

Now I just want to find out how to get The Loyalist’s Wife and its soon-to-be-released sequel, The Loyalist’s Luck, into this quality magazine!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500


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Move on Over Writers, the Next Generation is on the Way!

From time to time I meet writers. Not surprising because there are a lot of us around these days. That’s amazing in itself.

Because of the world I grew up in, where being inside the box was mandatory if we wanted to succeed, my creative side has mostly bloomed since three things happened:

  1. My children grew into their own lives and their own homes.
  2. I retired from teaching.
  3. Computers took over from telephones and televisions as the next lifestyle changing revolution.

That third one is the most interesting. Did you know writers used to actually write? On paper, with pens (or quills), and without ergonomically correct work spaces? And that meant hours of painstaking toil, especially in revising and rewriting the whole thing out over and over again. My brain hurts and my writing hand is locked in a permanent claw just thinking about it.

Certainly today many more people follow their need for self-expression and take the writing plunge. Just look at the number of blogs which stream by on Blogger or WordPress or any of the other user-friendly (there’s a word from the past!) blogging sites. Hundreds of thousands seek self-expression where two hundred years ago you would have seen a lot fewer zeroes in those numbers.

With the plethora of writers flexing their fingers and their brains it seems self-evident that a huge number of them would be young. I don’t just mean twenty or thirty somethings, I mean teenagers or even younger. In my volunteer job in an eight-hundred-strong group who gather to hear speakers and youth speakers every month, I had the pleasure of securing and introducing an eight-year-old author who was selling her book to help children in Ghana. Imagine! And she was already planning her next book and where its proceeds would go.


Last week I had the distinct pleasure of reading a column written by a fourteen-year-old about my book, The Loyalist’s Wife. He loved it. Even though he does not fit my intended audience Nassem Al-Mehairi enjoyed my book enough to review it and, a few days later, to interview me on his blog. Take a look at his links for a taste of what a young teenager can do.

I started my formal writing career only a few years ago. I am awed by the thought of what Nassem will do by the time he is my age. Consider leaving a comment on my blog or on Nassem’s or even tweet, Facebook, or whatever other social media thing you want to let the world know about Nassem. He’s coming!


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Two Places to Toot Your Horn

photo (9)-25_editedHave you ever finished a book just bubbling over with enthusiasm for it? And did you want to tell everyone just why you loved the book?

Today’s post is about just that. Of course you can tell your friends and the guy you meet on the subway but to reach a wider audience, you might try posting a review on Amazon and on Goodreads. (Caveat: Some of you have written many reviews and need no help from me. Feel free to add your suggestions in the Comments section.)

First we’ll do Amazon: Go to or .ca and search for the book you want to review by title. When you get it up to its own page, scroll down past the book’s description and the product details to Customer Reviews. You can click on the number of stars you want to award and then go to the box entitled Write a Customer Review. (It might be down a bit after other reviews that have been posted.)

Then follow the prompts to fill in your review. Remember to preview your review in case some little word or spelling gremlin has sabotaged your work and then hit publish. It’s as simple as that.

For Goodreads, go to your Goodreads account and pull up the book you wish to review. I recently read Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

review from Goodreads_editedI haven’t written a review yet which means there is still a button to press to do that, add a review. Clicking on that will take you to a simple template to fill in. Ignore the things you don’t want to do, such as html or who you would recommend the book to, unless you want to fill those in.

What Goes in a Review?

  1.  Why you liked the book.
  2. A little bit about the book with no ‘spoilers’ added. (Remember others may not have finished it yet.)
  3. Maybe something about the structure, such as rotating stories of more than one character, or judicious use of description that enhances your experience rather than taking you away from the action, or you may love a particular character because you identify with her in some way. Maybe the suspense keeps you reading long after your usual bedtime. Each book will dictate exactly what you wish to discuss.
  4. Anything else? Is there something this book said to you, did you learn something, or was the book a joy to read? This is the place to wrap up your review.

Now go right to Amazon and Goodreads and write a review. And, if you are so inclined, (here’s the shameless part!) write it for The Loyalist’s Wife, available on Amazon and Kobo.


Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Book Reviews, Writing Tips


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