In the Reviewer Spotlight: Jenny Q

Welcome to the Reviewer Spotlight, where dedicated book reviewers share their thoughts on reading and reviewing historical fiction! Today's guest is . . . Me!
Hey, it's my birthday, humor me!

Why do you read historical fiction?

     I’ve always been a history geek and I love to be swept away to another time and place when I’m reading. And I like that I’m learning when I’m reading historical fiction. (Mostly. See question five.)

What are you reading now?

     I’m just starting Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould, young adult suspense in 1585 Venice.

What makes a great read for you?

     A book that takes hold of my emotions and my imagination and doesn’t let go, even after I’ve finished it; a book that brings a time period to life in a way that gives me an appreciation and a better understanding of the history that occurred there.

What’s your biggest turnoff?

     Bad writing and bad editing. Whimpy or lackluster endings. Women who stand by their cheating men when they don’t have to.

Where do you stand on the fact vs. fiction debate within the genre?

     I want more fact than fiction. Period. Otherwise it should be classified as an alternative history or a fantasy, (which I like very much, I just need to know what I’m getting).

Are there any subjects that are overdone?

     Tudors, for sure. And I don’t get the fascination. I think the Tudors were a pretty shady bunch of people and I hate to see them romanticized in fiction and movies. Not to say that I don't enjoy some Tudor fiction, because I do, when they are portrayed realistically, but I’m mostly a Plantagenet girl, myself!

Are there any subjects you’d like to see more of?

     Early America, Revolutionary War, Scottish and Welsh history.

Do you read any of these historical fiction sub-genres: mystery, inspirational, fantasy, romance? Why or why not?

     I read all of them. They all have elements I like. I read historical romance regularly, and a good amount of fantasy, and once in a while I pick up a mystery or an inspirational.

Are there any current trends in the genre you either really like or really don’t like?

     I like that the Stewarts are seeing some more action, and the ancient societies trend (Rome, Egypt, Greece), and I like that more historical fantasies and historical mysteries are being published. I’m a little disturbed by this trend I’m seeing of taking minor historical women and building them up as rivals to queens when in fact, they never came close. What can I say—I’m protective of my favorite historical ladies!

What’s the last historical fiction book you read and loved?

     I loved The Night Circus, but it’s so light on the historical side that I don’t think it really counts, and right before that I read and loved Wildflower Hill by Kimberly Freeman and The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn. That was a good reading week!

What’s the last historical fiction book you read and hated?

     In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener. I got through three chapters before booting it to my Did Not Finish shelf, and I was mad that I’d been tricked into reading it by savvy marketing.

What’s your favorite time period to read about?

Colonial and Revolutionary War America. I continue to be amazed at the courage and tenacity of the people who shaped this country and there are so many fantastic stories that still haven’t gotten the novel treatment. The Georgian period always makes for fun reading, especially when compared with the stuffy rules of the Regency and Victorian eras.

Who are your favorite historical fiction authors?

     Sharon Kay Penman, Diana Gabaldon, Elizabeth Chadwick, Deanna Raybourn, Bernard Cornwell, Sara Donati, Susannah Kearsley, Helen Hollick . . . I’ve got a lot of favorites!

How often do you read?

     Every day! And usually for several hours.

Do you read print books, ebooks, or both? Which is your preference?

     I read both. I usually have a print book going and an ebook on my Nook at the same time. I also listen to audiobooks on my iPod while walking and driving. So at any given time, I’m usually reading three books, and I love all three formats!

Do you have a favorite place to read?

     I can read anywhere, anytime! I have perfected the art of tuning everything else out when I’m reading. I can read standing in line, sitting in a salon chair, floating on a raft in the pool. I even trained myself not to get carsick so I can read on road trips. I always have a book in my purse.

Where do you post your reviews?

     I post reviews on my blog, on Goodreads, and on Amazon.

Do you write a review for every book you read?

     Nope. I read a lot. (One of the benefits of not having children: plenty of quiet time J) I write reviews for all of the books that are given to me for that purpose, and with others I tend to pick and choose which ones I want to write a full review for and which ones are just getting a little blurb on Goodreads.

Do you read other reviews of a book you’ve read before you write yours?

     Sometimes, if I’m having a hard time writing a review, peeking at a couple others helps me get my thoughts in order.

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?

     Yes, I usually do scan through my friends’ reviews. And the results vary, although I would say we tend to agree more often than not. Mostly because we trust each other’s reviews and we tend to read a lot of the same books.

Do you have any pet peeves about book reviewing in general?

     I really wish people wouldn’t rate a book on Goodreads before they read it. Particularly with new releases, there are always people who rate a book five stars because they’re excited that it’s coming out, and it skews the average rating. I also hate when people post negative reviews on Amazon that have nothing to do with the book, but rather with their anger at Amazon’s customer service.

Have you ever stopped following someone because of a review they’d written?

     Yes. Not because they didn’t like the book, but because in their review they bashed people who did like the book, and that’s not cool.

Where do you think readers can find the most trustworthy reviews?

     The community sites, like Goodreads and LibraryThing. And all of the bloggers I follow are great reviewers. I tend to place the least consideration on reviews on retail sites.

How much weight do you give to reviews when choosing whether to read a book?

     A whole lot. Life is too short to waste on books I don’t like, especially when there are so many out there I want to read. I evaluate each book before I add it to my to-read list. I usually skim a couple of reviews from each rating range to get a variety of opinions.

What do you like best about being a book reviewer?

     The community. I really like to talk books, but I only have a handful of friends in real life who want to talk about them with me, so finding other readers online who share my interests and like to talk too, has been very rewarding. It’s pretty cool to have relationships with  publishers and authors  and to have them on my blog. Those free books are nice, too J

Thanks for visiting the blog today!
Check out my book blog or
visit my shelves on Goodreads!
Stay tuned for more Reviewer Spotlights!


  1. Love your answers, Jenny!

    I relate to your final answer. I also love talking books, but only have a few friends who are book lovers like me. Reading-related sites have introduced me to lots of other wonderful known about. Don't you wish a bunch of us book bloggers could get together in real life and go book shopping? Think of all the damage we could do :-)

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

  2. Love this feature, Jenny! I second Melissa's comment, too bad we aren't all closer and could meet up. The book blogging community is awesome, it's the only place I truly feel "normal" :)

    Have a great birthday, Jenny!

  3. Happy birthday, Jenny!

    I've never understood why someone rates a book when they haven't read it. Just don't get it.

    I have few friends who read but no one likes historicals which is a shame...

  4. Happy birthday. My *real life* friends don't understand my obsession with books (family doesn't either) so it's great to have the online friends who do.

  5. Happy birthday, Jenny Q! Hope it was filled with lots of books, print and e, and cake. :) Love your new spotlight.


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