Stuart MacAllister is a writer & reviewer of historical fiction, from Bristol, England. His Historical Fiction Review Blog is rapidly becoming the place to go for trusted reviews of historical fiction, from indie to mainstream authors, Sir Read-A-Lot will offer a review... if the novel warrants one. He also gives special on-line awards for the special ones.
His blog tag-line is:
Crusading to promote high quality historical fiction!
In addition to his guise as Sir Read-A-Lot, Stuart has recently taken on the role of Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society for Indie/Self-Published Historical Fiction. This involves co-ordinating requests from independent authors who wish to have their novels reviewed by the Society. It is a vital role and Stuart is keen to bring his passion and expertise to the role and recruit more reviewers, especially ones interested in reviewing the increasing number of e-books the Society is asked to assess. The Historical Novel Society is one of the few official groups who are interested in reviewing Indie Published books - their aim is to prove that self-published authors can be every bit as good as mainstream; to do this the HNS follows a strict criteria for review, which includes the presentation of the book (cover, font, typesetting layout etc) in addition to the standard of writing. For details of submitting a book for review, contact Stuart here or via the HNS website Guidelines Page
In a nutshell, if Stuart as HNS Editor, or as Sir Read-A-Lot posts a review of a book you can lay a bet that it is a decent read (depending on your personal taste, of course.)
Anyway, over to you Stuart...
Hi Helen, thanks for inviting me as a guest. Why I love Historical Fiction
I have always read books. As a child I was encouraged to read from an early age, when I got my first library card aged 7, I felt like a whole new world had opened up for me and the sight of dozens of shelves filled with books was exciting and slightly scary. How could I pick just four books when there were hundreds to choose from?
As I got older I found myself drawn away from my usual fare – police & crime thrillers and found it was the stories about events, characters and battles of the past that grabbed my attention and still does today.
Stories written in the past are educational as well as entertaining. A well crafted story is all well and good but in historical fiction, that isn’t enough. The author has to be able to take you back hundreds of years and place you right in the middle of an era that is almost alien. On one page you are witnessing a knight battle through his enemies, his sword drenched in blood and his armour weighing him down as the euphoria of battle is overtaken by tiredness. On another, two politicians may be conspiring to thwart the plans of a treasonous nobleman who wants to overthrow the King. Or a sea battle, women gossiping about their rivals whilst sewing, explorers finding new lands to conquer, the re-telling of bravery and heroism in war-time, there is so much diversity in the genre that I never get bored of it.
And that is why I started blogging about the books I read. I found it soul-destroying that so many good books were being drowned by the sub-standard quality of the growth industry of immediate and electronic publication. Now, I believe that the concept of publishing on demand is a good one and with traditional publishers being extremely selective, many authors feel they have a viable and affordable way to get their books into the marketplace. However, the concept has created a major problem. Too many people rush through their writing process and send their manuscript to Amazon without going through a stringent editorial process. Bad formatting, grammatical and spelling errors, poor writing and countless other mistakes are abound and, without being too controversial, culminate in a very poor product that tars every self-published writer with the same brush.
Sir Read-A-Lot is more than a review blog written by a fan of the genre. I created it to be a solid and reputable resource where readers, reviewers and authors can engage with each other. Like all readers, I want to know which books are worth buying and which ones are not. My reading time is precious to me and I want it to be filled with wonder and not be distracted by a poorly written prose and two dimensional characters. If I feel that way about reading, then I am sure others feel the same way too. Historical fiction is a gloriously colourful and deeply moving genre. Its expansive subject matter, the multitude of eras, countries and characters on which it can draw inspiration from mean that it has something for everyone. And that is why I love it so much!
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The Golden Hammer & Anvil Shield Award
In his quest to promote the very best examples of historical fiction novels, and taking inspiration from a quotation by John FitzGilbert, the father of "The Greatest Knight" William Marshal, Stuart has launched his own award.
The award is open to books published by any author, whether they are represented by traditional publishing house, use an assisted publishing company or who have done the whole thing themselves. I will be presenting the award at my discretion, to books that I have reviewed and achieve my highest rating of 5 crosses.
However, a 5 cross rating will not mean you instantly qualify for the Golden Hammer & Anvil Shield. It will only be given to books that are truly special; whose stories are impeccably crafted, where authors have taken care to ensure their manuscript is properly edited and prepared to a professional standard and where the story evokes thought and emotion long after the final sentence has been read. This award is all encompassing and includes e-versions, traditional hardback and paperback works.
find out more: Here
Sir William Marshal – I first read Elizabeth Chadwick’s seminal novel around ten years ago and my first thought was “why haven’t I learned about this man in school?”. Honourable, loyal and decent – few men in history can be painted in such glowing terms.
Stephen Fry – funny, erudite and a very clever, thoughtful man. He would entertain everyone with his wit and wisdom.
James Bond – I have always been a fan and am currently re-reading Ian Fleming’s books (albeit slowly). He is the epitome of what a secret agent should be and I wanted to be him when I was growing up.
Jacques De Molay – the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. His final years were lived in unimaginable cruelty and he never divulged the secrets of the Temple. I doubt he would tell me anything but our conversation would be interesting, all the same.
Judas Iscariot – I know many people would invite Jesus as a guest but to me it makes more sense to speak to the villain of the story. Why did he betray his friend and did he commit suicide? I am not a believer but if there was one person who could shed light on what really happened, it would be the biggest scoundrel of them all!
Freddie Mercury – I have always been a big fan of Queen and he is, in my opinion, the greatest front man of all time. As a show man I can imagine his presence would be entertaining and to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” with him would be a perfect moment in time.
Kenny Dalglish – the greatest British footballer I have ever seen. He played for, and managed, Liverpool FC and in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 he and his wife Marina provided so much support for the families. He attended every funeral – 96 people died that day and he has stood by the survivors and victims families campaignig for justice ever since.
The Hairy Bikers – these two northern nutters are the best and most amusing chefs on the telly. They could cook up some delicious food and entertain us at the same time.
Julius Caesar – one of history’s great Generals. I can imagine his stories and demeanour would entertain us all and I would love to hear about how he wanted to reform the Senate and stabilise the Roman Empire.
Victoria Pendleton – for one reason and one reason only…..I love her!