Friday, February 8, 2013

Blogger Spotlight - Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Welcome back to another edition of Blogger Spotlight, where I introduce you to a blog that I adore in hopes that you'll adore it as well. With us today is Sarah, creator of the fabulously titled Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.

Fast Facts!

Creator: Sarah

Start Date: January 2012

Number of GFC Followers: N/A (but they do have 300+ Twitter followers)

Post(s) I Enjoyed: CEFS is great at many things, but I especially enjoy their lists. Ooh, and their snarky review of Les Mis was awesome.


Shelver: Hello! Would you please introduce yourselves and your blog?

Sarah: Clear Eyes, Full Shelves is a blog devoted firstly to reading, but we also adore television, movies and, uh, standing on soapboxes. While we review books from most genres, we also talk about current issues in reading culture (our most popular post is Stop telling me what to read!), poke a bit of fun at ourselves (like in Laura's hilarious Book Nerd Relationship Tips post) and talk about our adventures in trying to find something good on Netflix (like when I accidentally watched 66 episodes of The Vampire Diaries).

The blog is named after the Greatest Television Show of All Time, Friday Night Lights, in which Coach Eric Taylor fires up his team by saying, "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!" (You can watch an awesome video montage of this on our "About" page.)

I'm (Sarah) the lead contributor and designed the blog and keep track of everything and edit all the posts--my co-bloggers call me "The Queen of Everything." I'm a part-time college teacher and also have a small communications business. I am from a small town in Oregon, have lived in Washington, DC, New Mexico and Ireland. Currently, I live in Portland, Oregon with my husband and two Australian Shepherds.

Laura is our "Stealth Editor and YA Evangelist." She and I got to be friends on Twitter because we both love basketball! It turned out that we also both loved books and live only a few miles from each other, so now we're friends in real life too. She's got a super-cool job: she takes care of pianos all day. (Laura's like a superhero for musical instruments.)

Sandra is my mom, and is a retired high school English teacher. I call her an "Aspiring Nancy Drew" because she loves campy mysteries and Nancy is still her role model. She's a closeted book snob, but don't tell her I told you that!

Rebeca is our "Official Romance Correspondent" and Laura and I met her in our book club (I coordinate the Portland chapter of the Forever Young Adult book club) and peer pressured her into joining Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. Not only is she an expert in all things romance novels, she's recently returned to college and we're so excited for her! (We call her "Renegade" because my phone auto-corrects her name to that and it stuck as the Best Nickname Ever.)

Shelver: Such a great mix! Although now I need to stop and find out how someone can "accidentally" watch so many TVD episodes!

In the meantime, answer this: Why did you (Sarah) decide to start a blog, and how did you find each of your contributors?

Sarah: I'm not going to lie, I started the blog because I had a random thought while watching an FNL rerun, "It would be awesome if someone had a book blog and called it, "Clear Eyes, Full Shelves." A quick Google search revealed the no one had thought of this name, so I snagged the domain and then kicked the idea around for nearly a year before starting CEFS (I'd managed several blogs for work and was a bit burned out on blogging when I first came up with the idea). Laura bugged me for months to get it going after I told her my idea for a blog, so I struck a deal with her: I'd start it, but she had to be a contributor.

Sandra was an easy recruit because she loves to write and is a voracious reader, so she hopped on board immediately. Like I mentioned earlier, we met Rebeca through book club, and she had expertise that none of the existing contributors did. While I'm not actively seeking out new regular contributors, we're very open to guest contributors and have had some really fun folks post on the blog, including my favorite, Hannah, who's a teenager living in London.

Shelver: You hear that, folks? Guest contributors. They want them. If you think you can be at least as cool as Londoner Hannah, apply now!

Back to the interview. What are your favorite genres?

Sarah: I can usually find something I like in any genre. However, contemporary or realistic fiction is near and dear to my heart. Some of my favorite reads in the last year have been what I call "emotionally authentic" stories, in both the adult and YA categories. I loved C.K. Kelly Martin's Come See About Me, Melissa Walker's Unbreak My Heart (her book Lovestruck Summer is one of my favorites too), Molly O'Keefe's Crooked Creek novels, Trish Doller's Something Like Normal, Mary O'Connell's The Sharp Time and Sarah Ockler's Bittersweet.

I'm also a huge fan of novels in verse, and my two favorites from 2012 were Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron (an Aussie title which will be released as Out of this Place this year) and Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay and my all-time favorite verse novel is The Day Before.

But I'm not all contemporary, all the time. I adore Maggie Stiefvater's books and am a new fan of Sarah Rees Brennan. I also love good urban fantasy (if you like UF and aren't reading the Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett or Cassie Alexander's Edie Spence series, you need to fix that ASAP) and this year Meljean Brook's Riveted--which is steampunk--stood out as a favorite read.

Shelver: I... have not read a single one of the books you just mentioned, not even the steampunk one. Looks like I have my homework assignment of the year.

What are your least favorite genres?

Sarah: I'm not a big science fiction reader and high fantasy doesn't do much for me either. Laura likes both, so I just let her tell me about it. I used to think I didn't like romance, but in the last few years I've discovered several authors whose romances I adore. I rarely read from the Middle Grade shelves, though Sandra is a fan.

Shelver: Haha, we're such complete opposites. I love it. I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much. You're always exposing me to new things.

I love your book matchmaker feature! Has there ever been a request that's completely stumped you (even if only for a bit)?

Sarah: Oh, the Book Matchmaker feature. If I'm going to be honest, that kind of got bigger than I ever thought it would be. We currently have a HUGE backlog that I can't even start to tackle (I've toyed with the idea of asking people to be "guest matchmakers" because I find that we recommend the same books a lot).

We have had some very, very strange requests, actually. One of my high school friends submitted a request that went like this, "I'm a guy, so I want books with sex and violence," which cracked me up.

But the worst was a guy who submitted a request and included the caveat that he didn't want books by women or from a female point of view. I was all, "Dude, you came to the wrong blog for help!"

Shelver: Ohhh dear. I can't decide whether to laugh uproariously or shake my head over the inanity of it all.

Picture this: You're about to be cryogenically frozen. Your basic necessities have already been stored away for when you awaken, but now you must choose your books, and there's only enough space for three. Which three novels (books, not series) would you choose?

Sarah: First of all, I vehemently object to the idea of being cryogenically frozen--I hate being cold!

But, that's a tough question because I'm such a moody reader! At the moment I'd say Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, which was my favorite book growing up; Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins for a bit of sweet romance and an escape to Paris, a city I love; and for the last one, I'd say Where She Went by Gayle Forman, because it's one of the most perfect stories of redemption I've read.

Funny, I guess I'm in a contemporary YA mood--ask me next week and it may be The Scorpio Races, Riveted and Kindling the Moon.

Shelver: Fair enough. 

Anything else you'd like us to know about you or your blog?

Sarah: All of us are disciples of the Church of Friday Night Lights and anyone who mentions they've never watched the show is immediately brow-beaten until they binge on at least a season. As Laura alway says, if you don't cry at least three times a season, there's something wrong with you.

One of the things that we felt really strongly about when starting CEFS was that we wanted to be somewhat unstructured. So, we agreed to not have a specific review format or ratings system, but Laura did start the "FNL Character Rating" which we use quite a bit. Basically, we assign a rating to a book based on Friday Night Lights characters. We think it's pretty funny. We also don't limit ourselves to any one genre or category or even any subject--we want to have fun with the blog and I really try to evangelize to other bloggers to do the same.

Shelver: I think that's my cue to close out the interview before Sarah finds out I'm a FNL innocent. (Nope, never even seen a clip.) *sneaks away*


Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I'm sorely lacking in solid contemporary reviews around here, so I encourage you all to check out CEFS. Really, whether you like contemporary or not, you should still check them out. Like Sarah said, they have a diverse rotation of posts, and there's a little something for everyone.

Once again, Clear Eyes, Full Shelves can be found here. You can also find Sarah on Pinterest and Facebook, and the entire gang on Twitter @FullShelves, @SarahSMoon, @StretchedOctave, and @RenegadeReader.