Site Resources

Welcome to the Site Resources page!

Click here to jump to my statement on Biases, Limitations, and Position.

Click here to jump to FAQ.

Click here to jump to Blog Glossary.

Click here for the Russia Debate.

Click here for the General Board.

Biases and Limitations; Position.

  • I am a student working from an incomplete knowledge base.
  • I am not culturally or ethnically Russian, and have only been to Russia once (for a six-week period), grounding me firmly in the Western outsider’s perspective (albeit an unconventional one). I do read Russian at a high level, so direction to Russian-language material is welcomed.
  • I’m not affiliated with any political party or movement.
  • I’m biased for books, academic papers, and empirical research and against news articles.
  • I’m biased in favor of logic-based arguments and against emotional appeals.
  • I have no time for the idea that Russia somehow defies logic.
  • I refer to the 73 years of the existence of the USSR not as a historical “mistake” of an oppressive tyranny but as a distinct cultural/social/political entity.
  • I do not believe that the mass media can be counted on to provide balanced coverage of Russia. That goes for both Western and Russian mass media, but especially Western.
  • While I do not hold a positive view of the Putin administration, I’m in no rush to demonize it.
  • I am of the belief that my country’s interests are not well served by confrontation with Russia, and that it is good when nation-states have stable, non-bellicose relations with one another.


Click on the boldface to see answers.

I thought I saw a comments policy up at one point.

You did. It has moved here:

One of the main purposes of a book review is to foster constructive dialogue and discussion about the book in question with the audience. That being said, since Russia is a polarizing topic, a comments policy is somewhat of a necessity.

  • The “on-topic” rule has been removed – you may now use the book/review as a springboard into other subjects if you prefer.
  • Please keep profanity to a minimum.
  • Comments deemed to be spam or questionable will be deleted. Outbound links should be relevant to the post topic.
  • No ad hominem or individual attacks on the blog owner or individual commenters. Personal attack comments will be deleted.
  • I as the blog owner reserve the right to edit or delete any comments submitted to this blog without notice. This comments policy is subject to change at any time.
  • Anyone who violates the comments policy may be blocked from commenting on the blog.

Side note: If you write a long comment (or one with more than three links) and it doesn’t appear with the rest, it likely got caught in the spam filter. You might have to wait a few minutes for me to approve it manually.

I’d like to share or quote your content. What should I do?

I’m happy to have anybody quote or repost anything anywhere at any time. Just be sure to follow the rules of common decency and behavior.

  1. Attribute the content to the Russia Reviewed blog or “J.T. on Russia Reviewed”.
  2. Use a linking hyperlink
  3. Do not misrepresent me or what I said in my original post.

One more thing: The only blogging/social media platforms I (J.T.) use are WordPress and Twitter (@theredshelf). If you see anyone claiming to be “J.T. from Russia Reviewed” on any other site, it’s not me. If you see snippets of writing or the What is Putin Weaponizing infographic on any other site, it wasn’t me who put it there.

Do you get paid to write this blog? Do you have any sponsors or institutional partners?

Russia Reviewed is 100% independent. It’s run purely on the private initiative of a woman with books and a computer. I don’t receive money from anyone and Russia Reviewed has no formal sponsors/partners, be it in academia, think tanks, publishers, NGOs, government, business, or the media. On the one hand, this allows for complete editorial freedom. On the other hand, this means I must self-market RR and purchase copies for reviewing (or wait until the library obtains them).

Will Russia Reviewed ever partner with anyone? Perhaps – when the future is assured, when more reviews have been written, when the time is right to come in from the anonymous cold.

Interests aside from Russia?

Insects; creative writing; unconventional comics; translation; creative illustration; travelling; reading; DIY/crafting. Hand-work, mind-work.

Where do the images on your blog come from?

Stacked book graphic for Booklists is from Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels. Waterlogged book photograph by Daniel Oines. Broken lightbulb photo by George Becker. Newspaper graphic from Clipartix. Blog logo by me. All other graphics are mine or taken from book covers unless otherwise stated.


Blog Glossary.


Did Not Finish. A book that I quit, for one reason or another.


Direct to Film. A book that seems to have been written with the intention of being optioned for screen adaptation. Almost reads like a movie script, with choppy writing, bland or undeveloped characters, and melodrama and/or gratuitous action. Another problem that seems endemic to spy thrillers.

Fyodor the Plowhorse

Coming soon.


Head-of-State Fiction. Any novel revolving around a real or imagined politician/world leader and their relationship with power. Thematically varied, usually taps into the historical fiction, satire, literary, or biography genres.

Kremlin Crow Companions

First making its debut in the Revenge of the Kremlin review, this term references the over-the-top evilness with which some novelists portray the Russian government. In RotK, during the same scene in which Putin delineates secret plans to go Back to the USSR™ and murder the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, crows are described as flying around the Kremlin. I found this lack of subtlety amusing. You may also see “Putin’s Wicked Wolfhound” used – a reference to the companion animal Putin had in another terrible spy thriller, Patriot.

Lighter, stick, and bag of marshmallows

A reference to the end of the Fardwor, Russia! review, describing what I do with books so horrible that they can’t be donated to anyone anywhere. (PLEASE NOTE: I do not actually burn books, nor do I condone burning books.)


More of the same.


Obligatory Sexy Russian Love Interest. A staple of cliched spy thrillers [dealing with Russia] is the sexy Russian seductress-spy, who will inevitably get with the dashing lead and defect to the West at the end of the story. Usually can’t be mentioned in-text without bringing up how gorgeous she is. Every. Single. Paragraph.


Proceed at your own risk.


Ripped From the Headlines. A thriller which bases its plot on a real-life event – or at least something reported on by the media. For example, after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a spate of novels have appeared in which characters must thwart Russian plans to invade the former Soviet states.


Too Long; Don’t Read. Sometimes substituted with tt;dr (too trite; don’t read).