to Discovering Diamonds! 

Hello and welcome to Discovering Diamonds. I decided to open this review blog because I am passionate about assisting good indie and self-published authors of historical fiction to get noticed, I am also a keen reader of the historical novel and have written a few of my own - both indie and traditional mainstream. Good reviews of good books, however, they are published, are always welcome because readers do not particularly care how a book is produced as long as it is well-produced and the reading experience is rewarding, satisfying and entertaining.

A few friends of mine are equally as passionate and have volunteered their time to either act as administrators or reviewers, or both, so thank you, everyone!

Our aim is to showcase well-written historical fiction for readers to enjoy. We welcome indie-published writers because indie writers do not have the marketing backup of the big publishing houses, but if traditionally published novels come our way we'll be happy to read and review them! Our intention is to have a good mix of good historical fiction to share with you, a reader.

However, we are fussy: we only publish reviews of the best books, so we also take note of correct presentation and formatting as well as the quality of writing - and when space and time are limited we may only select a few books a month to review. This will mean that if your book is selected to be reviewed then you know it is of an approved status, especially if it receives the accolade of Book Of The Month - or better still, Book Of The Year. 

All books reviewed will receive a Discovered Diamond logo to use where you wish (your own blog or website for instance) and there will be a logo for Book of the Month and Book of the Year to use likewise.
Books we review will be mentioned on Twitter (@HelenHollick  - look for the hashtag #DDRevs) and Facebook,  and posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Please help spread the word about Discovering Diamonds where you can. The more buzz we can create, the more buzz there will be about your book!

look for the hashtag: #DDRevs

Who We Are
Some of us review a lot, some only occasionally. Some of us are readers, some of us are writers - several of us are both. But all of us are keen to promote good historical fiction!

Founder of #DDRevs

Helen lives on a thirteen-acre farm in Devon. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and while working in the local library discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with her novel about Queen Emma The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown.) She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, pirate-based nautical adventures with a touch of fantasy, and has two non-fiction books published about pirates and smugglers.

Website   Facebook   Twitter @HelenHollick  Amazon Universal

email Helen

Submissions and Technical Editor

The only thing Nicky ever got in trouble for at school was reading under the desk during Physics class. It was probably a Sharon Penman… Once it became clear that Life (and excess height) was determined to prevent her from becoming a ballerina, after dabbling in the world of motorsport, she returned to her other loves – history and books. A graduate of History, medieval with a bit of pre-historic archaeology thrown in for fun, the Normans and Domesday Book are her specialism, Edward III her passion and the bits in between her essay content. 

When not writing her own brand of fiction, for publication when she overcomes her shyness, Nicky loves to work with other authors to beta read, proof and offer a helping hand with research. She wants to promote great plots, authentic settings, superb characters, but her obsession is accuracy, both historical and grammatical. The image is of Nicky practising for battle at Crecy...

Follow Nicky on Twitter @sicestverum. 

Senior Reviewer

Richard was born in Muswell Hill, London and nearly went to school with the Kinks and Rod Stewart. Starting work at the Ever Ready Company in 1964, he moved on to the Performing Right Society and ended his working life as a Civil Servant, retiring in 2013. He now lives in Lichfield. He has four children and an equal number of grandchildren. Needless to say, he loves reading as well as Tottenham Hotspur and steam trains.
Richard is a voracious reader. 

Read his article Through A Reviewer's Eyes HERE

Senior Review Editor

Annie Whitehead is a history graduate and prize-winning author. Her novel, To Be A Queen, is the story of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, who came to be known as the Lady of the Mercians. Her second book, Alvar the Kingmaker, tells the story of Aelfhere of Mercia, a nobleman in the time of King Edgar, who sacrifices personal happiness in order to keep the monarchy strong when successive kings die at a young age.  Both books have been awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion. 
She has completed a third novel, also set in Mercia, and scheduled for publication in 2017.

Annie has twice been a prizewinner in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing competition, she won first prize for non-fiction in the new Writing Magazine Poetry and Prose competition, and she has had articles published in various magazines, on a wide range of topics.

She is also an editor for the EHFA (English Historical fictions Authors) blog. She lives in the English Lake District with her husband and has three grown-up 'children’.

Website   Facebook   Twitter  @ALWhitehead63 

USA Managing Editor 

Kristen McQuinn dreams of reading more, writing more, and travelling more while being the best single mama by choice that she possibly can be. Her day job at the University of Phoenix is all about working with English professors, and she often teaches mythology, Shakespeare, or Brit lit classes herself. She is a contributing writer at Book Riot. Sometimes she even occasionally updates her own blog. Follow her on Twitter: @KristenMcQuinn or at www.hergraceslibrary.com 

Graphics Designer

Cathy Helms. Graphic Design. Cathy grew up with a healthy interest in anything related to the Arthurian legends – thus the inspiration for naming her design business ‘Avalon Graphics’. She has always been fascinated with British history, the Dark Ages in particular. She regularly attends local Renaissance Festivals in North Carolina where she resides. Cathy offers an array of design services and has particularly geared Avalon Graphics to suit self-published authors and small
businesses in need of quality design while on a tight budget.

She provides full book jacket layouts, marketing materials such as flyers, postcards, bookmarks and web graphics for her clients including Elizabeth Chadwick (social media graphics) and Helen Hollick (website, book covers, book trailers, marketing material).

Cathy lives in North Carolina with her husband, is an avid reader and generously agreed to be our  Cover of the Month / Year judge along with fellow designer, Tamian Wood.

website   Twitter @Avalon_Graphics   Facebook



Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, it never occurred to Alison Morton that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. After six years in a Territorial Army special communications regiment, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting things she can’t talk about, even now… Years later, after Alison made a detour to bag an MA in history, the Roma Nova alternate history thrillers with tough heroines are the result. The first three, Inceptio, Perfiditas and Successio are set in the 21st century; Aurelia goes back to the 1960s and Insurrectio to the early 1980s. Awarded the coveted BRAG Medallion, the first four books have now been acquired by Audible.

Alison is represented by Blake Friedman Literary Agency for overseas and ancillary rights. She now lives in France with her husband and writes, tends her Roman herb garden and drinks wine.
Website   Facebook   Twitter@alison-morton   
Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s: In the Shadow of the Storm and Days of Sun and Glory.

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. All of Anna’s books have been awarded the BRAG Medallion.

Website   Twitter  @Anna_Belfrage  Facebook   Amazon 


for personal reasons Anne wishes to remain private. Anne especially likes historical adventure and anything Roman Britain or Saxon. She's not too keen on the Victorian era - but says a good read is a good read whatever the period or genre...


Retaining his personal information, Anne's 'partner in crime', now retired, likes to sit in the sun, or before the fire, feet up, glass of something nice to hand along with a wedge of Stilton or Brie and a good book to immerse himself in. He also says he wishes he could look as young and good-looking as the anonymous image used here for him!


It is said she was born in the middle of a revolution, and that this was the beginning of the stories she would tell.  Ethel Catharine (Cathy) Smith has worked in the field of education since 1973, teaching all grades from preschool through higher education. She has a Masters in Administration, with an Emphasis in Professional Writing from Northern Arizona University.  Cathy is bilingual in Spanish and English. She has lived in and worked extensively with multicultural communities. Currently, Cathy is full-time faculty with the University of Phoenix. She teaches entry-level English and General Education classes. Cathy is also the managing editor of We Rise, the University of Phoenix's Quarterly Digest.


Pirate historian Cindy Vallar has reviewed books for more than three decades. She is the editor of Pirates & Privateers, an online publication on the history of maritime piracy. She also writes historical fiction and is a freelance editor. Her latest story, “Rumble the Dragon,” appears in Dark Oak Press’s short story anthology A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder.

A retired librarian and educator, Cindy lives in Texas with her husband, Tom. She’s currently working on her next historical novel, The Rebel & the Spy, which takes place during the War of 1812. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, she enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles and collecting Teddy bears.


Cryssa is an historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War.  Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War and was the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award (historical fiction), a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards (historical romance) and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. Her second novel, Severed Knot, was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2018 New Novel Award. Both novels are part of a series of stand-alone adventures spanning from the English Civil War to the Restoration.

Website     Facebook  Twitter @CryssaBazos


 Ellen is an experienced reviewer but prefers to keep her details private

(J G Harlond)

Originally from the south-west of England, J.G Harlond (Jane) studied and worked in various different countries before finally settling down with her husband, a retired Spanish naval captain, in rural Andalucía, Spain. Her historical fiction, set in the 17th century and the first half of the 20th century, features many of the places Jane has lived in or visited – along with flawed rogues, wicked crimes, and the more serious issues of being an outsider. Apart from fiction, Jane also writes school textbooks under her married name. Her favourite reading is along the Dorothy Dunnett lines: well-researched stories with compelling plots and complex characters.

Website: www.jgharlond.com   Blog http://wp-harlond.jgharlond.com

 Twitter: @JaneGHarlond


Jeffrey is an American born and raised in Flyover Country. A retired military officer, he flew big bombers, served in Bosnia, and ran a State Department program in Baghdad. He’s been shelled, rocketed and sniped by various groups, all with bad aim. Inexplicably, he managed to get degrees from Tulane, Syracuse, Georgetown, and Harvard—plus a year at St. Andrews where he met his wife. An attorney and professor, he’s taught legal history, law of war, criminal law, and international law. He lives in Virginia, his house sitting on the old royal governor’s plantation. Mostly he sits around and makes up stories now.

Website: jeffreykwalker.com   Blog: https://jeffreykwalker.com/blog/
Goodreads Author Profile: 


Jeffrey Manton’s father was a Royal Naval officer who broke speed records in the 1950s and his mother was a German refugee. He began his career marketing people and blazed the trail for today’s spin doctors. He worked and lived in Paris, Madrid, New York, Dallas and Boston and ghost-wrote articles for newspapers and periodicals that included the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, El Pais and Le Figaro.

Novel writing started after Jeffrey was tutored by Orange Prize nominee Liz Jenson at the Arvon Creative Writing Foundation and he was then mentored by Pulitzer Prize runner-up Dick Vaughan as well as Booker long-listed John Murray (creative writing teacher at Madingly Hall, Cambridge) who said: ‘he has an assured and admirable talent.’ Jeffrey’s second novel The Splendour of Anna Stern was a bestseller on Youwriteon.com.

A voracious reader of fiction at the rate of a book a week, Jeffrey’s tastes range from Dorothy Whipple and Elizabeth Taylor to Sidney Sheldon and Victoria Hislop. He is a member of the Author’s Society and is an avid and delighted online chatterer on anything to do with books. Jeffrey is a member of The Copyright Tribunal, a former probation board member and a presiding magistrate.

Twitter: @jeffrey_manton  Facebook 


Jen Black did one year of history at university, changed courses and then graduated in English language and literature. She always wanted to write, worked in libraries of various kinds all her working life, finally began to write and achieved publication a decade ago. Her novels are divided into serious historical novels such as The Banners of Alba, Abduction of the Scots Queen and Queen’s Courier, and the historical romances: The Craigsmuir Affair and The Gybford Affair. There are also the Viking stories – Far After Gold, Magician’s Bride and Dark Pool. She is currently working hard on her next book, The Matfen Affair, which will hopefully be published on Kindle before Christmas 2016.

She has been reviewing for the last couple of years, and lives in the beautiful Tyne Valley with her husband and one large dog.

Website    Twitter  @JenBlackNCL  Amazon: The Gybford Affair  The Craigsmuir Affair


Jessica wishes her details to remain private. A former academic and multi-published novelist, she is an avid reader of all genres particularly historical. Her specialist areas are the ancient world and the European theatre of the Second World War.


JJ Toner writes WW2 spy thrillers amongst other things. He lives in Ireland.

Bitten by the writing bug in his early teens, he finally started writing again in 1996 after half a lifetime of procrastination. Not that he was ever short of good excuses. For 35 years he worked with computers, first as a petroleum geophysicist, then with medical and veterinarian scientists, accountants, engineers, and in a variety of industries. His work took him all over Europe, and yet he found the time to marry, build a home, father three kids, and get his golf handicap down to single figures.
JJ has been a full-time writer since 2007.



Cat, Large, Man, Reading, Book, Pet

John is a recent  member of the team, 
but wishes to keep his details private


Lisa J. Yarde writes fiction inspired by the Middle Ages in Europe. She is the author of the six-part series, Sultana, set in Moorish Spain, where rivalries and ambitions threaten the fragile bonds between members of the last Muslim dynasty to rule in Europe. The first title in the series is available in multiple languages. She favors the medieval period, in which two of her other novels and a short story are set. 

Born in Barbados, Lisa lived abroad for 33 years until a recent, permanent return to her island home. She has been a member of the Historical Novel Society, presented at its 2015 conference, and currently serves as the social media manager of the New York City HNS chapter, having been a co-chair (2015-2017). She is also an enthusiastic blogger and book reviewer, having moderated and contributed to blogs for over ten years, and previously reviewed historical fiction for the History and Women blog, Washington Independent Review of Books, and through NetGalley.

Learn more at www.lisajyarde.com


Lorraine Swoboda works in her office on a mezzanine directly under the roof. There was at first no way to access this space, so her husband built a staircase for her. Whether this was in her interests or his own is debatable.

She is a writer, a blogger about matters writerly and grammatical, and an editor.

She has a joint honours degree in English and American Literature and has worked as a TV news researcher and copy-writer, a school library administrator, and an online advice columnist.
She and her husband moved to France in 2004, first to the Vienne, which was too hot and too cold, and later to Brittany. They find it’s a gentler climate in the north, though a good pair of wellies and an acceptance of mud are essential.

Her first Regency novel, Mrs Calcott’s Army, is now published

Twitter: @LorSwob


Louise is an experienced reviewer, but would rather keep her details private.


Lucy is the pen-name of an established author, 
who wishes to  remain anonymous

Not content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. As well as writing and editing professionally, Marian oversees Arboretum Press, a small publishing imprint run as a collective.  
website: https://marianlthorpe.com/
twitter @marianlthorpe


Mary lives in Devon but wishes to remain private. She is an avid reader and likes to curl up before the fire with her dog and two cats.


Paula Lofting is the author of the 11th Century series Sons of the Wolf, charting the lives of historical and fictional characters in the years leading up to the Norman Invasion. She is a psychiatric nurse and mum of 3 and grandmother of 1 by day and writes in her spare time. She is also a reenactor of the period in which she writes with well known leading reenactment society Regia Anglorum. She is currently working on the 3rd book in the series Wolf's Bane.

Sons of the Wolf myBook.to/Sonslive  The Wolf Banner myBook.to/WolfB


Richard writes historical fiction set in the ancient near east in the Late Bronze Age. He appreciates a good story with interesting characters, especially those exploring social and personal issues and not just battles. He also likes alternative history or unusual approaches to a subject, an interest deriving from his own dalliance with speculative fiction. He prefers stories set in the ancient or pre-medieval world, but can easily be persuaded to try out most other periods. He has reviewed for various groups.

Blog   Website    Facebook   Twitter @MilkHoneyedLand


Richard is a Master Mariner and ex Thames River Pilot. Retired and living in South Devon, he writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of the reluctant detective, Andorra Pett.

He reads books of every genre, all that’s needed to get his interest is a great idea behind the story.
As well as details and samples of his own work, his website features regular reviews and a weekly showcase for independent authors to speak their minds.
You can find his website at richarddeescifi.co.uk
He’s also on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi


Susan has two books traditionally published and seven ebooks spanning the centuries. Two of her books have won Indie B.R.A.G Medallions and one has won a Chill with a Book Award. At the present time, she is working on a series of short stories about the Wittelsbachs, a German ruling family who have fascinated her since she met them during research for an earlier book. Susan was born in Yorkshire, England, which is where she learned to love English history. She now lives in Ontario for six months of the year with kids and grandkids and Mexico for the other six months with sun and sea and margaritas on the beach.


(graphics designer)

Tamian Wood has generously agreed to be our joint Cover of the Month / Year judge along with Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics. Tamian is a Graphic Designer, who founded Beyond Design International.

website   Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest

* * * 
My thanks to all our volunteers 
who give up their time to support good authors 
by reviewing their novels.

see also

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Every book reviewed will receive one of our Discovered Diamond logos for the author to use as they wish:
For A Highly Recommended Read
For A Recommended Read
with an additional special  logo for the book/books chosen as Book of the Month and Year

click here for more information
click here for more information
We update a section where you can find books by author:
click here
We will consider any genre of historical fiction for review - from mystery and romance to alternative and fantasy. However, at least 75% of the novel must be set pre-1953
and there are a few tips for dos and don'ts for new and novice authors, aimed especially at writers thinking of going indie or self-published:

more information here
and if you would like to submit a novel for us to consider for review you will find details

Thank you - enjoy browsing!