About This Site

Welcome!  Reading the Past is my home on the web for historical fiction, and I use this space for writing about historical novels and discussing the genre with my fellow readers.  The site celebrated its 18th birthday in March 2024.

I publish reviews of new and backlist titles, offer occasional interviews and guest posts, post news and new publishing deals, and preview forthcoming titles, among other things.  The changing trends in historical fiction cover art are a special interest.

In addition to hundreds of reviews and interviews (see index - which is a bit out of date by now), this blog has several long-running features:

Visual previews: forthcoming books for each season, with covers
My contributions to the alphabet challenge, sponsored by Historical Tapestry during 2010
Reviews of obscure books, in which I read and review out-of-print, hard-to-find historical novels
Tacky vintage cover art.  If you're tired of the headless woman trend... well, it could be worse.

I don't accept advertising on this site.  Comments that appear to be advertising a product or service will be deleted, assuming the spam filter doesn't catch them first.

About my interests:

Reading the Past covers historical fiction exclusively. This includes commercial and literary novels, sagas, mysteries, epics, and fantasy novels with historical settings (1960s and earlier). My reading tastes are wide-ranging and tend not to follow trends. 

Note: The following details are informational only (this site is closed to new review and interview queries).

Favorite topics and subgenres:
- Sagas
- Early American settings
- Medieval England and Europe
- Historical mysteries
- Novels with intriguing female characters
- Less familiar historical settings or subjects
- International titles
- Novels in translation

I do not review:
- Military or "big battle" fiction. Although I know they're popular, I don't typically review male adventure novels, either.
- Alternate history
- Contemporary novels about the past
- Historical nonfiction, historical films, or audiobooks

Sample reviews for books I especially enjoyed:

Sally Gunning, The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
Jude Morgan, The Taste of Sorrow
Diana Norman, Fitzempress' Law

More about me:

I've been a librarian for 29 years and am a tenured professor at Eastern Illinois University.  At EIU's Booth Library, I serve as head of collection management and librarian for electronic resources, economics, and government documents. Since 2000, I've been editing the Historical Novels Review, the Historical Novel Society's book review magazine, and I also help out with the HNS website. My reviews (as well as longer articles) have appeared in Booklist, NoveList, CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, Bookmarks Magazine, and the Globe & Mail, among others.  I also edited the book review column for the academic library journal Public Services Quarterly from 2004 to 2012.  I'm a member of the American Library Association, Reference & User Services Association, and National Book Critics Circle, along with many library/university committees.

Two of my books deal with historical fiction and readers' advisory topics.  Historical Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (2005) and its sequel, Historical Fiction II (2009), are both part of the Genreflecting Advisory Series published by Libraries Unlimited.  Under a former name, I've co-authored an earlier book on library careers.

In 2012, I was selected as the recipient of the Louis Shores Award for book reviewing by the American Library Association's RUSA division.

For more on my professional background, see my resume or my web page on Publishers Marketplace.

I'm a native of central Connecticut and miss living in New England, though I don't miss the traffic and outrageous housing prices.  My husband and I moved to rural Illinois from the Boston area in 2002. We own a house out in the country with too many cats and about 10,000 books.