As you might be able to tell from perusing my website, I (in the red hat) love that retirement lets me spend more time in the world of books, photography and ideas and, when I’m able, feeding my passion for travel. Of course, the pandemic has put quite a crimp in that.

Countries I’ve visited in blue

My website/blog focuses on, in reverse order of frequency:

3. Random thoughts about gender, racism, politics, and making sense of the complex world around us.

2. My amateur photographer’s appreciation of beautiful and unique images.

1. My own independent book reviews where I try to convey the experience of reading a particular book. And NEVER include spoilers. I am particularly drawn to historical fiction and my favorite topics are English, French, and Russian history and both world wars.

In addition to this website, I also share my book reviews (sometimes under a pseudonym HalKid2) on Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Bookbub, Facebook, Twitter, Kobo, Google Play, edelweiss+, reedsy, StoryGraph, booksirens, and LinkedIn. (not Amazon, we have had a falling out.)

I have also embarked on the humbling experience of learning to draw and paint with watercolors, for the FIRST time. You can see some of them if you look for HalKid2 on Instagram.

My Professional Life

There were three phases to my professional career, listed here in chronological order:

  1. A broadcast news writer, producer and news department manager at TV stations.
  2. A professor of broadcast journalism at Boston University’s College of Communication.
  3. A contract writer-producer-director of videos, animation, Web sites, and print materials for clients across dozens of industries.

I still apply my decades of writing experience to pro bono work for causes I am passionate about. If you’re interested, you can read more about my professional life.

Professional Reader80%


  1. Thanks Jim for taking the time to express your views, though I am about to disappoint you again. While I welcome comments, this one seems more like your personal instructions to me rather than simply a reaction to a review.

    Since this is my blog, I will continue to read whatever I choose, from any genre, and I will continue to post honest reviews, with relevant information about how I approached the book.

    I leave it up to readers whether to pay attention to my opinions. Anyone is also free to not read my blog. That is, I believe, how the internet works.

    I also offer a link to an article you may find illuminating:


  2. Greetings Toby,
    Your brief self-introduction tells me you enjoy stories of both World Wars. My book, Where Destiny Commands, is a WWII story based on true events. It is soon to be published.
    I am taking the liberty of sending you a short description of the book in the hope that you might find it of interest. And if, indeed, you do, I should be happy to send you the entire manuscript with a request for your opinion on it.
    Regards, Leila Sen

    Where Destiny Commands weaves the high drama of true events into a compelling WWII love story.

    1940: As WWII engulfs the world, & the British Raj faces its final years in India, a young Indian doctor embarks on the journey of a lifetime when he joins the Medical Service in the British Indian Army. The war takes him to the Middle East, and eventually to Cairo, a tumultuous city of political intrigue and espionage, teeming with Allied forces and those displaced from war ravaged nations. There he meets a young woman haunted by the Armenian genocide she fled for safe haven in Egypt. Fate, however, intervenes when his Battalion, the 2/4 Gurkha Rifles, is swept into battle against Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and he is captured in the Battle of Gazala. Faced with separation & surrounded by global turmoil, will their destiny be denied, or will their love transcend the tragedies of war, the boundaries of far-flung countries, & the barriers of time & fate…


    1. I appreciate your request and I’m flattered, truly. But I only review books that I have chosen. I don’t write reviews on demand. Good luck with your book. Toby


  3. Dear Toby,
    I am writing with the hope that you will consider my historical novel, THE LONE LEOPARD (set in Afghanistan), for a review. The book will be published independently in mid-July 2022.
    I was born and brought up in Afghanistan and claimed asylum in England in 1999. I have undergraduate and master’s degrees in Law at The University of Northampton and UCL, respectively; and a PhD on the War in Afghanistan at Durham University.
    THE LONE LEOPARD gives a first-hand account of what I (and most Afghans) have experienced over the past four decades in Afghanistan (and in exile). My previous book, ‘America in Afghanistan’, published in 2019 by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury (https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/america-in-afghanistan-9781784539986/ ), was praised by reviewers for its Afghan perspectives, and is found in, among other institutions, Oxford and Harvard.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Yours faithfully,


    1. While I am genuinely flattered at your request, I’m afraid I only review books that I choose myself, and almost exclusively fiction. Best wishes with your new book. I hope it is a success. Toby


    1. Hi. I am very flattered that you ask but I only review books I choose for myself. And that is almost exclusively fiction.


  4. My name is Anita Tiemeyer, and I would like you to review and post three historical novels I had recently published on your website. Please visit my website to read what my books are about–the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. Thank you. ast4586@gmail.com


    1. I’m flattered that you asked but I only write reviews of books that I have chosen to read. I don’t write reviews on request. Sorry.


      1. I very much like your book reviews. Where best do you recommend I can follow your postings regarding books you’ve read?


      2. Thank you. The best thing to do is hit the FOLLOW TOBY A. SMITH button toward the bottom of any post page on my site. It’s just above the SEARCH FIELD. then you’ll get an email notification whenever I post something.


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