In the Reviewer Spotlight: Jen

Welcome to the Reviewer Spotlight, where dedicated book reviewers share their thoughts on reading and reviewing historical fiction! Today's guest is Jen
from The Introverted Reader!

Why do you read historical fiction?

That’s a tough question! I just like it? Hmmm. I like escaping from this busy modern world into a different time, while hopefully learning a little something along the way.

What are you reading now?

Gone With the Wind and I am loving it so far!

What makes a great read for you?

If you’ve ever spent any time on my blog, it’s pretty apparent that I gravitate toward memorable characters. In historical fiction, if you can set the stage for the time period AND give me a character that I really like and relate to, you have got a winner!

What’s your biggest turnoff?

Too many details. I know that tons of research goes into historical fiction, and it’s got to be hard to decide what to leave out, but if it doesn’t somehow further the story, or if the description goes on for more than 1 or 2 paragraphs, I think you should cut it. If you don’t, you have completely lost me as a reader.

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

I do like authors to stick fairly close to the facts, but I also understand this is historical FICTION. I love it when authors include notes at the end of the book explaining which parts of the book are facts and which are fiction. That is the perfect compromise for me!

Are there any subjects that are overdone?

The Tudors. You just can’t turn around without running into another book about them.

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

I personally read more Western European/American HF. I would like to read more set in other countries. I don’t know if there just aren’t as many of those kinds of books or if I just don’t come across them.

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

I do read historical mysteries and historical fantasy. I enjoy the mysteries because I get the historical details with the added challenge of less high-tech methods of solving crimes. I adore fantasy and historical fiction, so historical fantasy is an obvious choice for me. I love Guy Gavriel Kay’s work.

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

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I liked both alternating stories, both lead females, both lead males, and I love Scotland. It was a great read!

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

Hated is too strong a word, but I was disappointed in Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. There are a lot of reasons, but I guess the biggest things are that I disliked one of the main characters and I expected more of a thriller.

What’s your favorite time period to read about?

I enjoy reading World War II books (not so much about the war itself, but the way it impacted the lives of regular people) and I do enjoy reading about royalty. I’m not too choosy really!

Who are your favorite historical fiction authors?

Some I consistently pick up are Susan Vreeland, Geraldine Brooks, and Sena Jeter Naslund. I don’t know if they would even consider themselves HF authors or if I just happened to stumble on their books that are HF! I enjoy C. J. Sansom’s historical mysteries, and of course Guy Gavriel Kay’s historical fantasies.

How often do you read?

As often as I can! At least an hour at lunch and usually more in the evening.

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

I read both but I still prefer my print books.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

Any place is a good place to read! My favorite is on vacation at the beach. I also like reading in my hammock. In the winter, reading while curled up on the couch with a warm blanket and a hot mug of tea is my idea of heaven.

Where do you post your reviews?

On Goodreads and my blog with links posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you write a review for every book you read?

I try to, but I very rarely get so far behind on reviewing that I won’t remember what I had to say about a book that I read months earlier.

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

No. There’s usually one review that will get a book on my to-read list, but after that, I don’t read any more until I’ve written my own. I want my ideas and even the phrases within the review to be entirely my own. It’s so easy for little things like that to sneak into your 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?

After writing mine, I do. Our thoughts are usually pretty similar.

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

I like details, so reviewers who write little more than “I loved this book!” or “This is the worst book in the world” irritate me. Tell me why you loved or hated it! Something that you hated, say two alternating stories within one book, might be something that I enjoy. Give me some information to judge what my own reaction might be.

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

I don’t think so.

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

Within a group of friends with similar taste, either in real life or online.

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

I don’t pay any attention to professional reviews, but the opinions of friends do weigh very heavily.
What do you like best about being a book reviewer?

Reviewing helps me get my thoughts about a book worked out and helps me remember details. I tend to read so much that books start to blur together. I also like when people comment on my reviews and say that they have picked up this book on my recommendation and loved it! That makes me feel like all the time and effort I put into reviewing is worth it!

Thanks for stopping by, Jen!
Check out Jen's blog, The Introverted Reader, and find her on Goodreads.
Stay tuned for more Reviewer Spotlights!


  1. Fabulous interview -- I too was disappointed by Labyrinth and I'm over the Tudors! (So glad I'm not the only one!) I haven't read The Winter Sea but I so need to -- everyone I read has raved about it. (Plus, cover love!)

  2. For a second there I had to take a look and check that I wasn't rereading my answers to these questions. I loved, loved, loved The Winter Sea, I am overdone on the Tudors too and World War II is one of my favourite eras to read about!

    You are better than keeping up with reviews though!

    1. Marg, I apparently can't type. I stay ridiculously far behind on my reviews! I've been hovering at 25-30 need-to-review books for months now!

  3. I am so behind on reviews it's not even funny, and I loved The Winter Sea, too. Won it from Historical Tapestry, as a matter of fact, so thanks for that Marg! Turned me on to a new favorite author.

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  5. Great interview! I really need to read The Winter Sea. It seems everyone has loved it. :)


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