Book Blogger Spotlight: Books and Brands

It’s the December feature of Book Blogger Spotlight, where we chat with some of our bloggers, ask them to share some of their favourite authors, the books they can’t live without, and find out how they came to book blogging.

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook you’ve probably become acquainted with this month’s feature blogger, Mara Shapiro of Books and Brands. Her thoughtful reviews will make you think and will most definitely make you laugh. Read on to find out more about Mara.

 What made you want to start a book blog?

There were a few reasons I wanted to start a book blog.  First, I’ve always loved books and reading, and what’s better than sharing what you love with others?  Second, since I read so much, my friends and family have always asked me for book recommendations and so a book blog was a great place to do that.  As well, I wanted to provide reviews that were unbiased and fairly short.  I found that many review bloggers were writing critical essays, when all I wanted was ‘should I read it or not’.  This was a place where I could provide readers with a quick yay or nay like I was looking for.  Lastly, I wanted to build a place to share things I love: stores, products, customer experiences, and books.  And so, Books and Brands was born.  I have to say that the best part of the book blog is that when a publisher sends me a book I might never had picked up, and then I fall in love with it!

What’s your favourite reading spot?

I love to read anywhere and everywhere.  I’ll lay in my bed, or cuddle on the sofa on a winter’s day when the kids are watching TV.  Unlike other people, I also like to read my e-reader in the car. So, long car trips are mega reading events for me.

Your favourite book in the last year?

That is really hard to say.  I’ve read so many incredible books this year.  I loved the Steve Jobs biography.  I have a quirky and extremely bright child, and hope that he achieves greatness with his creativity like Jobs did.  I loved The Dovekeepers, especially because we will be having my son’s Bar-Mitzvah on top of Masada next year.  Some other favorites were the Water Man’s Daughter by Emma Ruby-Sachs, and a couple of Canadian titles:  The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan and The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby.  I also have a secret love of British Chick Lit (shhh, don’t tell anyone), as well as historical fiction. 

Favourite book of all time?

Oh Gosh, these are hard questions. Probably, I’d have to say Jane Eyre or Little Women. These are novels that truly got me hooked on the written word forever. 

Favourite author?

I don’t have a favorite author, actually.  There are so many that I like and follow, and my taste runs from intellectual to quirky to light and fluffy.  I do really like Ken Follett, Philippa Gregory, obviously the Austens. I adore Emma Donohue. 

Favourite movie adaptation of a book?

Usually, I am disappointed in movie adaptations.  But, I’ve liked a few:  Bridget Jones Diary (especially because of Colin Firth), The Devil Wears Prada, and obviously Gone With the Wind.  The adaptations of the Austen books are quite amazing. Movie makers are also doing a really good job of adapting the children’s and teen books, and I’m looking forward to The Hunger Games.

What do you do when you’re not working on your blog?

Obviously, I read.  A lot.  I love to cook and I started practicing Moksha Yoga a year ago.  I love to socialize with friends, whether on Twitter or in real life over a giant glass of red wine. I dream of writing my own book one day, and just finished NaNoWriMo for National Writing Month.

Do you seek reader engagement on your blog? If so, how does this affect your ideas about books and authors?

I love it when people comment on my blog.  I think taste in books is very personal, so I don’t have a problem if someone were to disagree on my review or my opinion.  I personally have very eclectic taste, and so I’m always interested in hearing what others have to say, and will always take them up on a recommendation for a book or author to look at.

Do you read other blogs? Which ones?

I read a whole bunch of blogs. Some are written by friends of mine, and some are because they are funny.  I really like to laugh.  I have to admit, I don’t read other book blogs.  I’m not sure why…maybe because they give too much away, which I try not to do in mine.  My favorite blogs are: The Bloggess, Peace, Love, and Muesli, Being Marci, AllFookedUp, and The Literal Mom.

How has your blog developed or changed since you first started?

I don’t post as much as I would like. I tend to read more in the summertime than the rest of the year.  As well,  I started another blog to reflect more of myself, and the crazy life I lead, and actually I’d love to integrate the two together.  The blog hasn’t grown as much as it deserves to. However, I’m very proud that I have stuck to my original intention of providing short and unbiased reviews without spoilers or quotes out of the book.

Make sure to check out Books and Brands or her other blog Be nice or Leave and follow Mara on Twitter!