Book Chat Historical Fiction

Book Review: Triumph of a Tsar

For anyone who would like something a little bit different in the history genre, check out my review of Triumph of a Tsar by Tamar Anolic, a well-written Alternative Historical Fiction.

Triumph of a Tsar is a work of alternate historical fiction in which the Russian Revolution of 1917 is averted, and the hemophiliac Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, comes to the throne. In August, 1920, sixteen-year-old Alexei is enjoying his birthday celebrations when Nicholas dies suddenly. Overnight, Alexei becomes tsar of an empire that covers one-sixth of the world’s landmass.

Thank you to the author Tamar Anolic for a complimentary copy of this novel.

It’s been a while since I read a story of Russia, although those I have read stay with me in a way so many books don’t. The detailed psychological and philosophical explorations one can expect tend to set Russian novels in a category of their own.

With this novel, Triumph of a Tsar, the author takes us on a journey in the traditional style of the great Russian novelists. The sweeping portrayal of Russian aristocracy woven with true historic events evokes a strong sense of place and time to the point where we forget that this is alternative historical fiction. Anolic has created a world peopled by characters that are believable in their behaviours and actions. The protagonist, Alexei is thrust into a role before he is ready, and yet he steps up to assume the mantle of responsibility in a way that we can see and feel. Despite those who would see him fail, he learns and grows. We, the reader, find ourselves concerned about his concerns; his health, his enemies, his family and most of all the survival of his country.

As in any good book, we need to feel connected to the story and characters, and Tamar Anolic has successfully given us that connection as we consider Alexei taking great risks while he attempts to do what he feels is right amid contradictory priorities and advice. Who amongst us has not gone against the guidance of others to forge our own path?

The author uses dialogue to great effect in moving the story forward. We hear from the characters themselves how they are coping with the unfolding dramatic events. As WWII threatens Russia, Alexei calls his family together:

“During a pause in the food service, after the borscht and pickled fish had been cleared, Alexei called the table to order. “Thank you for coming,” he said. “I know you’re all busy with the war effort, and I want to thank you all for everything you’ve done. Having the imperial family visibly involved has made a large difference, both in morale, and in our fighting strength.”

He took a deep breath. “I’ve asked you all here on something of a more personal note. The Germans have already invaded Russia’s frontiers, and they’ve set their eyes upon both of our capitals- first Moscow, and now St. Petersburg. I fear that as members of the Imperial family, we will become the Germans’ targets- not only our persons but our palaces as well.”


“You think the Germans would bomb our palaces?” Ioann asked. “They’re our homes!”


“That’s precisely the point,” Alexei said. “Besides, our palaces are huge buildings that make for easy targets for the Luftwaffe.”

This is a well researched piece of writing. The story flows and while it offers an alternative to what really happened, it still provides enough history to leave the reader satisfied.

Congratulations to Tamar Anolic on creating a fascinating book. I give it four stars and recommend it to anyone who is interested in something a little bit different.


About the Author

“Triumph of a Tsar” is Tamar’s second novel. She has a history of writing about the Romanovs. Her first book, the nonfiction biography entitled “The Russian Riddle,” was the first biography of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. In addition, one of her short stories focuses on Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and his sons: “Rumors of War,” published in The Copperfield Review in May, 2017. Tamar’s first novel, “The Last Battle,” was published in 2017.



Awards Historical Fiction

Feeling Grateful

Spring seems to have finally arrived in Southern Ontario and it brings with it a renewed sense of purpose as the grass greens and buds hint at the arrival of new leaves. It’s with this joy in all things gardening that I’m especially honoured to be the recipient of a Len Cullen Scholarship. This (one of two) $500-dollar scholarships is awarded by the Writers’ Community of Durham Region annually and sponsored by the Cullen family in memory of their father, who was of course, a household name in landscaping and gardening. What most people don’t realize is that Len Cullen was also a prolific poet, and his poetry could often be found in the newsletter he produced for several decades.

I look forward to applying this scholarship towards some writers-coaching to help me take my novel-in-progress (called Asunder) to a new level.

Thank you to the Cullen family for this amazing support in helping to grow my skills (which I hope will flourish more than my poor hydrangea) and to WCDR for all the encouragement, critiquing, and emotional sustenance on my writing journey.


Read An Ebook Week 2018

Read An Ebook Week 2018

I’m delighted to participate in this exciting event. Both my ebooks are discounted by 50% when purchased through Smashwords. Check it out now:


Events Historical Fiction

Such Excitement!

At the Gallery opening of When We Came From Away. November 2017

I recently had the pleasure of being part of Northumberland County’s project to celebrate our 150th birthday. The County has created a book and show at the Art Gallery of Northumberland County called “When We Came From Away”. It showcases accounts of people coming to Canada, now living in the county. The accounts and photos of the people and cultural artifacts is a joy to see. Take a trip to Cobourg to check it out!

In other news – mark your calendars for BOOKAPALOOZA!! November 25, 10 am to 3 pm in Whitby – All things for the book-lover. Authors, books, readings, prizes. Come and start your Christmas shopping!


Hope to see you there.

After Paris Book Chat Events

After Paris

After Paris front cover
After Paris front cover

It’s official! My new book has been published and ready to enjoy. To see where you can get your copy, select the ‘Buy A Book’ tab. There you will see the link for amazon – both Canada and US versions, the ebook link at Smashwords, or even through the website here. OR you could wait and buy it from me in person at the book launch:

When: September 10, 3 pm to 5 pm

Where: Real Mo-Mo’s ( 51 Colborne St, Toronto

I’d love to see you there and sign your copy, so put the event on your calendar today!



Family Business

Latest News

Public Speaking
Public Speaking

I love talking to people about my book and my writing. I was pleased to be invited on Saturday Oct 10, to speak with Martin van Denzen on 1320 Dutch Touch radio. You can listen to the interview here by clicking the link, and since your Dutch may not be perfect, scroll ahead to minute 37 to listen to the interview in English.:



For more opportunities to listen to me speaking about my debut novel, Family Business, check out my ‘Events’ page for upcoming engagements.

Family Business

New Ways to Read

Kobo Glo

As a writer who was shortlisted for the inaugural Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, I was delighted to receive a surprise ‘runner-up’ package which included the Kobo Glo E-reader. I admit it; I’ve resisted the E-readers before this because there is something I love about the feel and reading experience of a print book. Well, since it’s been pushed to me, and being a frugal Dutch person who can’t stand the idea of waste, I decided I’d give it a go. I’ve loaded up some books (starting with a Charles Dickens I don’t have in print – Our Mutual Friend). It’s a new skill to read this way. I’m not flipping back as much to reread something. No footnotes – oh my! No chunky feel of the pages moving from the ‘as yet unread’ to the read side. I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with it, but I can certainly see the convenience of it. As with fast food, there is always something to sacrifice for convenience. It’ll be great for travelling.

The other new way that I’ve been reading is out loud. This is rather a lost art (in the era of Dickens it was a common evening pastime) which I need to practice. I do regular readings of my book these days, but I find that I always feel better if I’ve done it at home, out loud, a few times before going in front of an audience. I don’t want to stumble. I want to make sure the emphasis and emotion are appropriate for the piece. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Go ahead. I dare you. Try it!

So – the lesson in all of this is that, even with a skill like reading, which one learned and presumably perfected back in grade three, it takes practice, honing and being open to the notion that there is still more to learn.

If you’d like to hear me read, and you will be in Gore’s Landing on September 12th at 4 pm, drop on by Pitchers Place restaurant. Can’t make that date? I’ll also be at the Cobourg Library on October 22. Drop in! I’d love to see you.


Awards Family Business Historical Fiction

Celebrating Success


What does success look like? Like a chameleon, it takes on different colours and forms depending on the time in one’s life. For me, the time may come when being Shortlisted  for an award like the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize may not be enough to warrant the great excitement; the throbbing heart; the near giddy joy that I experienced. That time may come, but for now, I feel amazingly successful. No, I didn’t win the actual prize – that honour went to Claire Battershill with her novel; Circus. Did I still feel like a winner as I chatted with other authors and members of the publishing industry at the awards gala? You bet I did. As an Indie Author, there may have been a few of those in the traditional publishing business who wondered how I came to be there, but I didn’t let that dampen my pleasure. I was shortlisted and forever after I can enjoy that triumph. And… somehow I suspect that the next time I’m shortlisted for something, I’ll be just as giddy.