Book Blogger Spotlight: History and Women

We’re excited to bring you our July Book Blogger Spotlight! This is 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.

This month, we bring you our chat with Mirella, who is extremely busy maintaining not one, but TWO blogs! History and Women and Historical Novel Review. You can find her on Twitter @historyandwomen or @historicalnovel.

What made you want to start a book blog?

I was the firstborn child of immigrant parents from Italy. In my pre-school years, my parents struggled to learn English. Most of the time, I was their interpreter, even though I was younger than 5 years old. So no one read me a story. In fact, I didn’t even know books existed. Then when I began first grade, my teacher opened a book and read the class a story. It was life changing. I was hooked at this whole new world that I never knew existed. By the time I was seven years old, I dragged my mom to the library and made her get me my own library card. From that day forward, I borrowed books every week. My passion for books remained with me all my life. I have a huge collection of books, so I decided to write reviews and spread the word about books I loved. I began http://historicalnovelreview.blogspot.com and the blog became so popular, I had to add several good friends to help me.

Popularity continued to grow so I expanded and created another blog, http://historyandwomen.com to not only feature biographies of notorious and famous women of history, but to include reviews of women’s or biographical historical fiction. This blog turned out to be even more popular than the first one.

Together, the two blogs are generating 75,000 hits per month / 3,000 per day. I’m so thrilled to be able to share my love of books with others and even happier that I have made so many cyber friends through my blogs.

What’s your favourite reading spot?

I read only in bed. At the end of the day, (usually shortly after supper) I put on my pj’s and cuddle up with a good book. I’ll read for one or two hours and then it’s lights out. Unfortunately, I’m not a good sleeper and usually awaken in the middle of the night. That’s when I pick up my book again until my eyes get heavy and I can fall back asleep.

Your favourite book in the last year?

I can’t say I have one clear favourite, but the book that really comes to mind is CROWN by Nancy Bilyeau.  Books set in medieval periods and about women are clear hits with me; especially biographical or those with Italian settings.

Favourite book of all time?

There are three books that are my all time favorites.

The first is Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I first read that book at the age of twelve and have read it several times since then.  Who doesn’t love Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler? But more than the characters, it was the southern setting of Atlanta and its burning that caught my fascination.

The second book is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. I love a great, evil, unredeemable villain and this book depicted the worst of the very worst! I think it is the shock of all the horrible things the villainess did that kept me reading and made me fall for the book.

And thirdly, I have to say Outlander by Diana Gabaldan. I love the hero and the heroine and have read this book several times because I could not get enough of it. Unfortunately, the latter books in the series didn’t capture me as much as the first book. 

Favourite author?

Along with Margaret Mitchell and John Steinbeck who I’ve already mentioned, I love F. Marion Crawford another classic author. His intricate plots and ability to paint a literary masterpiece with intensely descriptive words astounds me every time I pick up one of his books.  And because he is an American who moved his family to Italy, many of his tales have Italian settings.

Favourite movie adaptation of a book?

I love The Miracle , a novel written by a German author named Karl Vollmöller. It was made into a movie in 1959. It’s about a young postulant in Spain who falls in love with a handsome British soldier who asks her to leave the convent and marry him. The postulant prays for guidance from a statue of the Virgin Mary, but when she receives none, she leaves the convent and the statue descends from its pedestal and takes the postulant’s place. Meanwhile, the postulant encounters several adventures which ultimately lead her back to the convent. Of course, the plot is much more intricate than this, but I can’t simply give you all the terrific details. Suffice it to say that I loved the movie so much, I scoured the internet and bought a copy of this old book. I just had to add it to my shelf of favourites.

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

I’m an aspiring historical fiction author trying hard to break into the Canadian market. I’ve just completed a historical novel entitled Orphan of the Olive Tree. It is a family saga about lies, secrets, and betrayal between two unforgettable women, an oath sworn in blood, a curse uttered in envy, and the dark secret that destroys their lives. It’s set in 13th century Tuscany. I’m currently looking for an agent/publisher. Lots of twists and turns in this story.

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

I have met so many fascinating people through my blogs because of comments left and conversations started. It’s led me to meet many authors and bloggers and get to know them well. We regularly visit each other’s blogs to see who is reading or writing what and to get the inside track on new book releases. We share knowledge, our frustrations, and support each other in our blogs.   

Do you read other blogs? Which ones?

You can find a complete list of all the blogs I follow at:  http://historyandwomen.com. There are way too many that I adore. But some of my very favourites are:

Unabridged Chick               

The Brooklyn Scribbler

Colin Falconer 

Lindy Lou Mac Book Reviews

Murder by Gaslight

Royal Women           

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

History and Women, now a book review blog, began humbly, as a place to write biographies about famous women in history. I thought it would be nice for me to learn about some of history’s bad girls or saints or scholars and share it with my readers. The blog grew in popularity and now receives 50,000+ hits per month. I expanded the blog to include women’s historical fiction and a little bit about myself and my works in progress. I am so humbled at its popularity and thrilled that I have so many visitors and readers leaving such informative comments. Many even make suggestions about a woman in history they want me to research or a book to read and review. It’s been great fun and a wonderful escape.    

Make sure to take a moment and check out both of Mirella’s blogs below.