In the Reviewer Spotlight: Heather R.

Welcome to the Reviewer Spotlight, where dedicated book reviewers share their thoughts on reading and reviewing historical fiction! Today's guest is Heather R.!

Why do you read historical fiction?
I have always loved reading about history since I can remember.  I like how you get to experience a different time and place with every book that you pick up and can completely escape from our modern world.  Even though the places/times are very different, you can still connect to the characters because we are all still similar over time and place.

What are you reading now?
That’s a loaded question – because I am reading several books right now.  I’m reading: The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons, Sarah Childress Polk by John Reed Baumgarner, and re-reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

What makes a great read for you?
There has to be a mix of action and well developed characters.  I want to be able to connect with the characters and feel for them – even the minor characters should be well developed.  I like for a book to make me think and not be very predictable. 

Where do you stand on the fact vs. fiction debate within the genre?
I like to know that there is fact in my fiction and that there has been thorough research done, but I know that it is fiction and thus not to be taken as gospel.  I don’t get upset about stretching the truth, changing locations or dates to fit the story better.  It is historical fiction after all.  If I want to know more about something I read about I will go and get a non-fiction or look it up myself. 

Are there any subjects that are overdone?
For sure – I honestly can’t read another book about the Tudors right now.  I love reading about them and have a bunch on my shelves and wish list but the market was oversaturated in a short period of time. 

Are there any subjects you’d like to see more of?
I would like to see more set in the United States (any period really) or focused on characters who are not royalty.  I think over the last few years we have been absorbed with Kings, Queens, and Princesses – which obviously leaves out the common people and the United States.

Do you read any of these historical fiction sub-genres: mystery, inspirational, fantasy, romance? Why or why not?
I have read a few from the sub-genres of mystery, fantasy, and romance – usually more from the historical romance out of the three.  I like to read contemporary mysteries and romances as well – so expanding into the historical zone for these is a natural progression. 

What’s the last historical fiction book you read and loved?
A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware.  I was reading several books about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and thought that Ware integrated well written characters, romance, and historical details beautifully.

What’s the last historical fiction book you read and hated?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  It took me forever to get through this book and mostly I didn’t like the writing style and how it didn’t have much happening in the narrative.

What’s your favorite time period to read about?
Ancient Egypt/Rome/Greece as well as Colonial America.  I’m finding myself being drawn to WWII now as well.

Who are your favorite historical fiction authors?
Elizabeth Chadwick, Michelle Moran, Kate Quinn, C. W. Gortner, Anne Easter Smith among others.

How often do you read?
I pretty much read on a daily basis – in some manner.  I usually listen to an audiobook on my drive to and from work and try to read for 30-60 minutes before bed each night (but that doesn’t always happen).

Do you read print books, ebooks, or both? Which is your preference?
I don’t really read ebooks.  I don’t have an ereader and am one of those people who really does not have any interest in one.  I spend all day on a computer it feels great to have some texture at my fingertips while reading.  I love the experience of holding the book, turning the page, etc.

Do you have a favorite place to read?
I have a round chair in my office/library that I love to read in.  It is a quiet room and usually there is a cat to come and keep me company.

Where do you post your reviews?
I post all of my historical fiction/non-fiction reviews on my blog.  My other reviews, as well as the historicals, I post on Goodreads, Shelfari and usually Amazon.

Do you write a review for every book you read?
I don’t.  For books that I don’t officially review, I will usually write a few sentences about my impressions and post it on Goodreads/Shelfari.  For the most part I only fully review historical fiction/non-fiction works.

Do you read other reviews of a book you’ve read before you write yours?
I try not to because I don’t want to accidentally absorb and restate someone’s opinion thinking it was my own.  I will usually keep track of who reviewed the book among the blogs I read and go back and read them after I finish my review.

Do you read your friends’ reviews of books you’ve also reviewed? If so, do you find that your thoughts tend to be similar or dissimilar?
I do tend to read reviews of books I have reviewed that my friends write.  As stated in the above question, I usually wait until after my review is complete before I will read theirs.  Most of the time I find my thoughts to be similar to the 3 or 4 reviewers I am closest with. 

Have you ever stopped following someone because of a review they’d written?
Not really.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinions of what they thought about a novel and as long as they support why they felt that way, I don’t have any problems with their reviews – even if we differ in our perceptions.  There have been 1 or 2 blogs that I no longer follow because they engage in personal attacks or criticisms of authors (as opposed to their books) – that is just unacceptable to me. 

Where do you think readers can find the most trustworthy reviews?
I tend to find Goodreads as a reputable source for reviews.  Most people at this site are there because they love books and write valuable reviews.  I avoid Amazon when looking for valuable reviews because some of the people there give negative reviews because of shipping problems or personal bias. 

How much weight do you give to reviews when choosing whether to read a book?
I give some weight to a review, but don’t base my whole opinion on these reviews.  Reviewers where I have found I tend to share an opinion I give more weight to.  Usually reviews help me to decide where in my To Be Read list I should place a book rather than whether to read the book or not.

What do you like best about being a book reviewer?
I love being able to talk with others who love the genre.  It becomes a community that I look forward to visiting on a daily basis.  I always hate finishing a book because the experience is over – however with blogging you can extend that experience. 

Thanks for stopping by, Heather!
Check out Heather's blog, The Maiden's Court, and find her on Goodreads! Stay tuned for more Reviewer Spotlights!


  1. At least you stuck with Wolf Hall. I gave up after 125 pages!

  2. Nice review, Heather! I agree with you -- as much as I adore historical settings in England (or Europe), I'd like to see more Colonial and early American settings in fiction, too.

  3. This was a great, fun read -- I love Heather's blog -- fascinating posts that supplement her reviews!

  4. I'm with ya with wanting more historical fiction with characters who aren't royalty, mostly because those are the kind of books that I usually read.

  5. What a great interview! Noe I know you even better Heather. I agree with you about too many Tudors and royalty inspired books. I like stories of everyday people too. WWII has also piqued my interest as well. Have a wonderful weekend Ladies :)


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