Category Archives: Book Reviews and Recommendations

J is for Jade Tablets

All right, I’m totally cheating.

I’m not writing about jade tablets. I’m writing a book review today. The book has jade tablets in it. Hence, I’m covering my “J” requirement.

Now, before you judge, I could have written about Journeymen, since that’s the title of my series. I could have done some shameless self-promotion here. But this struck me as more important.

The book I reviewed is My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas, which I read for our local library’s romance group. Ms. Thomas, it turns out, is a local author here in Austin, and she came to the meeting to talk about the book.

And so did I.

It was my first time attending this group, which was nervewracking. You see, I’m an ex-extrovert. (This could have been my “X” topic. Still might be…) I don’t really attend many public functions anymore, even though when I do, I love them. But somewhere in my process of becoming more seasoned, I have become shy. Anxious, even, especially when it comes to meeting people.

But I’m so glad I went last night.

The group was a lot of fun, Ms. Thomas was extremely gracious and insightful, and she encouraged me to get into some writing groups here in town. As a rather bashful new author, I really appreciated that.

I figure the least I could do in return would be to recommend her wonderful book that I just finished reading for the group. And since the letter “J” is in the book once or twice, I have a great excuse to feature the review here in my A to Z blog challenge.

So thank you, Sherry Thomas, for writing a great book and being an awesome example of how authors should treat their fans. Check out my review of her book on my Reviews page. I hope it will be the first of many.



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Filed under #AtoZChallenge, Book Reviews and Recommendations, Chatting with the Readers, Historical Fiction

E is for Early Modern Europe

Someone should take me aside and gently advise me against pointing out the empty pages on my website.

You know, like that page that says Historical Bibliography.

I mean, it’s certainly not for a lack of historical reading that we find that page empty. But like my reviews and resources, I just find it hard to get anything up on there. You know, because of time and real life and jobs and family and all that nonsense.

Anyway, my first two time travel novels in The Journeymen series are partially set in Europe in 1578. Most people tend to describe that as the Renaissance, and since it’s a term people can easily embrace, I tend to go along with it.

But that whole “renaissance” thing kind of sets my teeth on edge. I consider myself a medievalist, and the idea of a renaissance as a “new birth” just seems like a big diss to the entire middle ages, which is undeserved and not helpful to understanding either period.

Renaissance is a bit nebulous as well. It, such as it is, happened at different times in different places. While many people like easy terms like renaissance that invokes images of Michelangelo and the Tudors, I tend to see the problems inherent with the oversimplification of historical periodization.

I’m pretty sure that last sentence just chased off half of my six blog readers.

Suffice to say, I’m adding a page of the books I’m reading to conduct my research in early modern Europe.

I like that term. Rolls off the brain very nicely, doesn’t it? Early Modern Europe

Think about it. We think of modern Europe as the society that has explored the world and colonized the Americas and has modern-looking commercial enterprises. One that has a printing press and Protestants and vernacular literature and realistic art. Early modern Europe is simply the beginning of all this. Makes sense, right?

All this blathering to say, I’d love to expand my empty Early Modern bibliography. If you do research in the area, I’d love to get your recommendation for good books and resources that go deeper into the period than your garden variety web page. I’m especially interested in Italy, the Council of Trent, and everyday life in the late sixteenth century. I’ll put up what I’ve been reading as well. At Home in Renaissance Italy

I promise.

Including this book that I just read that is absolutely revolutionizing my depth of understanding about Italian households in the sixteenth century. It not only discusses objects in Italian households, it tells the stories behind them, providing a depth of context that is proving invaluable as I put my characters in these same settings.

(I’ve quite forgiven the title. People like that “R” word. What are you going to do?)

I hope all these new pages will be something of a renaissance for my website. That would be a renaissance I can wholly embrace.



Filed under #AtoZChallenge, Book Reviews and Recommendations, Early Modern Italy

B is for Book Reviews

I’ve had this little blog for a couple years now, and something I’ve always wanted to do was have book reviews posted on it.

In fact, there is a Reviews tab up there.

With one review.

Mind you, it was a really good book I thoroughly enjoyed, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lots of other books, too. It’s just that I’m not so good about writing reviews. One might say I’m not so good at writing reviews.

I intend to remedy this.

I’ve been blessed to meet a number of authors via social media and read their terrific stories. Many of them are independent authors, and for those of us who write without the backing of a traditional publisher, reviews are basically our bread and butter.

Reviews are how novels are recognized, how they obtain marketing, how people get to know them when they’ve never heard the author’s name. I want to do my tiny part in this by getting my reviews on this site, along with Amazon and Goodreads and wherever else they will help.

No, I’m not a book blogger. I blog my interests, and I love books… among other things.

So today, B is for Book Reviews, really Book Recommendations, and I hope to do two a month. I’m honored to be able to spotlight my talented friends in this way!

Before I go to bed, there will be a second recommendation on my Reviews page. Oooh! Can’t wait!

Now, um… I just need to write it.  🙂



Filed under #AtoZChallenge, Book Reviews and Recommendations