In the Reviewer Spotlight: Misfit

Welcome to the Reviewer Spotlight, where dedicated book reviewers share their thoughts on reading and reviewing historical fiction! Today's guest is Misfit (aka Cathy)!

Why do you read historical fiction?

I loved to be educated and entertained at the same time. I rarely read contemporaries now.

What are you reading now?

The Eden series by Marilyn Harris. Damned good stuff, even if it is dark and depressing at times.

What makes a great read for you?

An author who can suck me into another century and hold my attention with strong, believable characters who act in appropriate fashion to their time and period/upbringing, etc.

What’s your biggest turnoff?

Wall paper historical settings, characters with 21C. I’m generally more forgiving of silly historical errors in older books written before the instant access we have now, but I appreciate a little fact checking even in a romance. Had one book I read in the last year that had the heroine not only diagnosing and treating people for influenza, she was actually using the word centuries before it came into use.

I’m not too fond of Mary-Sues either, heroines (or heroes for that matter) who bleed sugar if you cut them. Or those TSTL that stamp their feet, declare their independence and capability of taking care of themselves and stomping out into the night and immediate danger, requiring a rescue from hero.

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

I’m very big on trying to keep a story as close to the historical facts as the author can. I understand the need to change some events or whittling out a few characters to keep the story flowing, but I do not like the OTT made up stories like Carrolly Erickson’s “historical entertainments.”

Are there any subjects that are overdone?

Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although Sharon Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick could write about her as much as they want and I’d still read them J

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

The English Civil wars with the disputes between King Charles and Parliament are fascinating, and there’s not much out there except for old OOP’s like Stella Riley and Pamela Belle. I’d love to see more like that.  I’d love more on the US Civil War, or more US history in general.

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

I’ll read a romance on occasion, and for the most part those would be older ones from the 70’s and 80’s. I’m not having much luck with the newer models. More wall paper and little substance.

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

Multiple first person narrators, especially alternating between chapters. Try reading Susan Howatch to get a GOOD example of how to write a first person narrative. I fairly sick of the Tudors, I can’t even bring myself to try Margaret George’s book on Elizabeth.

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

Eden Rising by Marilyn Harris. Fifth in a series about one seriously dysfunctional family. Starts in the 1790’s. Awesome stuff, but very un-PC. Not much in the way of HEA’s either. Murder, madness, rape, incest, sodomy, kidnapping and all kinds of other dirty deeds.

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

Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory.

What’s your favorite time period to read about?

Medieval, English Civil war. I’m interested in most periods except for Rome/Greece/Egypt.

Who are your favorite historical fiction authors?

Still writing? Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Penman. From the old school? Anya Seton comes to mind off the top of my hat, and MM Kaye.

How often do you read?

Whenever I’m not at work, sleeping or hanging around Goodreads.

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

Both. Print still more than ebooks, but that might change some now that library lending is available for Kindle.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

In bed.

Where do you post your reviews?

Amazon, Goodreads, and my blog.

Do you write a review for every book you read?

Probably 99% of them. Occasionally there’s no need when other reviewers have already said all there is to say.

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

I’ll read reviews well in advance, but when I’m reading the book I really avoid them as I don’t want to know too much. When I’m ready to write the review I try to stay away until I’ve formed my own thoughts.

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 love comparing different opinions. I have friends who we agree 90% of the time and then go sideways on a book here and there. There’s never any hard feelings though, and it is interesting to see how differently people can react to the same book. Oftentimes one’s life experiences bring something out that the rest of us might not have picked up on.

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

I do not need the entire story recapped, even with spoilers removed. A brief description to give me the flavor of it and where it’s set is more than enough. I’m more interested in the reviewer’s reaction to the book, opinions on the writing, etc.

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


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

It depends on the review, and the reviewer. Reviewers who only give four and five stars aren’t of much help to me at all.

What do you like best about being a book reviewer?

It can be fun, and it all started for me as a way to keep track of what I’d read and what I felt about books and kind of spiraled from there. What I love are the comments that come out of nowhere when someone stops by and thanks me for what I’m doing.

Thanks for stopping by, Misfit!
Check out Misfit's blog, At Home with a Good Book and the Cat and find her on Goodreads! Stay tuned for more Reviewer Spotlights!


  1. I have enjoyed reading this. What a great idea to spotlight a reviewer.

  2. MM Kaye and Anya Seton, hooray! I love them both and am thrilled to see them lifted up -- I'll be checking out Misfit's blog now -- thanks!

  3. Great interview! Love following your blog, Misfit! I always trust your reviews.


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