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. 

Book Blogger Spotlight: Serendipitous Readings

We’re excited to bring you our June Book Blogger Spotlight! This is where we chat with one of our bloggers, ask them to share some of their favorite 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 Marci, from Serendipitous Readings. You can find her on Twitter @SerendipReads.

What made you want to start a book blog?

I wanted to see if there were people out in the blogosphere that had the same taste of books I had, as well as opinions – and how they differed.  I have come to find that not only are people opinioned about books they are just as or more than I am!

What’s your favorite reading spot? 

Favorite reading spot in the summer has to be outside – in a chair, on the grass, on the beach, have book will travel!

Your favorite book in the last year? 

I just read one called The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye absolutely could not put it down for the 12 or so hours it was glued…wait I was glued to it!

Favorite book of all time? 

I would have to say The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

Favorite author? 

Just one ?!? I have so many!  Lawrence Hill, Philippa Gregory, Scott Westerfeld, Vincent Lam,  Andrew Pyper..the list could go on, and on and on!

Favorite movie adaptation of a book?

I would have to say The Soloist by Steve Lopez.  Some or most of the political issues weren’t included in the movie, but still a fabulous book!

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

I take our dog Remington out for walks, I talk about people about books, I am on twitter, facebook, and because I’m a single parent, doing all of the running around that needs to be done!

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

I do seek reader engagement.  I believe that everyone has a valuable opinion and it usually doesn’t affect the ideas – thoughts I have about books and authors.  When I’m reading a book for review, I try not to read other reviews until I am finished.  I don’t want their interpretations of the same book I’m reading to skew my opinion.  Even on social media websites there is the occasional scuffle which either includes a blogger, an author, both or something /someone else.  In the beginning, it was exciting to hear all of the drama (right?) Now I’m more of the thing about all of us getting along and supporting one another, trying to work things out.  Life is too short, wouldn’t you agree?   But, there have been times when an author has gone all up and down someone and I thought wow, how can I make this not happen to me or to someone else? Or what has made the author so angry to make them explode on a public forum like that, it must have been bad if they have gone and done that!

Do you read other blogs? Which ones?

Sure I do, mostly when there is a book I haven’t heard about or a geek blog such as Mashable, Good E-Reader.  Like I had said earlier, I don’t really read book blogs unless there is a book that I haven’t heard of, or it has had a fantastic review of one I have already read and adored.

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

I guess in the beginning it was all new and exciting, I created a blog on Blogger.  After about a year or so after that I moved to WordPress and just last year I created my own site now that I pay for out of my own pocket, which I hope that will stay as relevant as any other blog out there.  I try to look beyond what the person is trying to say in the comments or when they send me an email about an issue I have covered and try to help them as much as I can.  There are the usual ups and downs, but I try not to let that get to me.  Everyone has their own opinion and they are welcome to share it, even though I may or may not agree/disagree with it.

Book Blogger Spotlight: Cindy’s Love Of Books

It’s the February 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.

This month we’re hearing from Cindy of Cindy’s Love Of Books.

What made you want to start a book blog?
I have always been a reader and always recommending books and it was only when my son started kindergarten (4 years ago) that I realized that I wanted to start documenting what I read and thought of books. Someone I knew had recommended doing it online so I started researching and stumbled upon other people who had a passion for reading doing the same thing. So I figured why not, I have time on my hands to do it while he was at school.

What’s your favourite reading spot?
My favorite reading spot currently is the living room, curled up on the couch. Although that will change once we get our family room renovated in a few weeks. I will have the back section where I will have my books placed in a new home on wall to wall bookcases and a nice comfy chair in front to sit and read.

Your favourite book in the last year?
I read so many great books last year that I don’t think I could pick just one. I read and enjoyed The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher, Holly Black’s White Cat and Red Glove (can’t wait for the new one to come out) and so many other great books.

Favourite book of all time?
My favorite book of all time is Wuthering Heights. I read it when I was in high school and to this day its the only book that I can re-read over and over again.

Favourite author?
I have so many favorite authors and probably too many to list but hands down favourites are James Patterson, Sophie Kinsella, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare. This list grows everytime I discover a new author.

Favourite movie adaptation of a book?
I usually don’t watch a movie adaptation of a book but the one that I really want to go and see is Hugo. I borrowed the book from my son’s school library and enjoyed it so I am curious to see how it will play out.

What do you do when you’re not working on your blog?
When I am not working on my blog, I am probably reading, helping my son with his homework, or taking him to hockey or curling. I have just started knitting so that is something else I do when I am not blogging.

Do you seek reader engagement on your blog? If so, how does this affect your ideas about books and authors?
I love when my readers stop by and comment on my blog. I am like a little kid in the candy store when I go into my blog to discover a new comment from a reader. It’s really exciting and it makes you feel good knowing that someone takes the time to do that. I have to admit that I am a little bad at commenting on other blogs. That is my new year’s resolution though.

Do you read other blogs? Which ones?
Yes. I read so many blogs and try to read them all but its hard so I make the effort to at least read them weekly. My favorites are read daily.

Some of the ones I read all the time are:
Tina at http://bookshipper.blogspot.com
Lucy at http://moonlightgleam.com
Kathy at http://bermudaonion.net
Sheila at http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/
Marci at http://serendipitous-readings.com/
Marie at http://lazydaisy0413.blogspot.com/

These are just a few of the ones I read. There are so many more!

How has your blog developed or changed since you first started?
One of the things that has changed since I first started blogging is the look. I have changed that so many times and I think I finally found something that I truly love. I know my reading taste has changed dramatically since blogging. I have opened up and tried so many genres and authors that I wouldn’t have before. I think I have grown more as a person and so has the way I write.