Reader Spotlight

Blog name: ShelfNotes - Amber & Arianna
Blog URL:

As a duo, how long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

AmberBug: Wow, just looking back at our first post on Aug 4th 2013, such a long time ago. We became friends a long time before that. We have our ex-boyfriends to thank for this friendship (they were best friends which lead to our close friendship). As far as the blog goes, that started with a trip to BEA 2013. The event was fantastic, we got hooked and wanted more. We started making plans for BEA 2014, pulling ideas together for a blog. The best part about the blog is being able to spend more time together and discuss our passion for books.

What genres and subgenres does your blog focus on? Are there any trends within these that you’re excited to see, or would like to see dissipate?

Arianna: If anything we’d probably describe the genre we focus on as adult literature, but we are pretty deliberate about not rejecting any specific genre or form. We’ve both dabbled in genres outside of our normal preferences because we feel it is important to broaden your horizons! And what better way to do that than through books?! If someone recommends something to us, we almost always add it to our TBR pile – even if it is something we might never have picked up otherwise. That’s the fun of living in a bookish world!

As you can see from our reviews, we hope it is clear that we always try to find something positive to say about every book we read, so we certainly don’t have strong opinions about what should or shouldn’t be published or read. We are just glad when others are enjoying our shared passion of reading! So whatever fads come and go, we’ll always support the underlying idea of bringing more book love into the world.

Besides BookExpo America, have you attended any other industry events? Would you recommend that other bloggers attend too, if they are able?

AmberBug: We haven’t attended any large industry events together but we have traveled to NYC for the Hachette Lunch one year and we have attended many Author talks (many at RJ Julia Bookstore in Madison, CT). Now that Arianna has moved to NY and works at Vassar (academic librarian), she has many opportunities to attend book talks with some fantastic authors. I think all book talks are worth it, especially when they discuss the books (instead of reading from them). Many times, we both agree, we have walked away with a greater appreciation of the work than before.

Your review style is somewhat unique as you specifically highlight the first sentence(s) of the book, and then your review is written in the form of a letter to the reader. How did you decide on this way of writing your reviews?

Arianna: When we decided to create a book blog, we looked around quite a bit for a blog title. Unfortunately, many that we excitedly proposed to each other had already been snatched up! When we came up with “Shelf Notes”, we figured it could be really fun to make these “notes” the format of our blog posts – letters to our readers. This ultimately worked really well for us, because one thing we were nervous about was the formality of a traditional book review: we wanted a way to keep things light and more casual, as well as allowing ourselves to address our audience directly, in what we hoped would be a more personal tone. And thus, Dear Reader, Shelf Notes was born!

Do you have any advice for book bloggers who are just starting out?

AmberBug: Be patient. Building a blog and gaining readers takes time. I would also suggest finding someone who loves books as much as you do and creating a blog with them. I’m not sure how some of my favorite bloggers do it all by themselves, it’s very impressive. We motivate each other and when we don’t feel “up” to it (because that will happen – it comes in waves), the other blogger(s) can help you out. Also, don’t expect this to be a job (you won’t get rewarded with money) and the minute it does feel like that, take a step back and change it up.

Are there any titles on NetGalley that you’re looking forward to reading/reviewing?

Arianna: If we had the time, we’d want to review every title on NetGalley! (Ah, dream world…) We did just both eagerly start The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. I have quite a few backlogged NG books that I am still eager to pick up, too. Because NetGalley lets us request what we are interested in, it’s been so wonderful seeing the high percentage of titles I have really enjoyed out of those I’ve selected.

AmberBug: I have a few I’m looking forward to but Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel has caught my eye. I’m also a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates and can’t wait to sink my teeth into her new short story collection The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror. I’m also intrigued with The Girls by Lisa Jewell, I heard it has the potential to be a good mystery.

The Guest Room     Sleeping Giants     The Doll Master     The Girls

Lightning Round!

Your ideal reading spot:

AmberBug: Bed (Snuggled with one of my three pets)

Arianna: A comfy chair with a hot beverage.

Your favorite authors:

AmberBug: Amélie Nothomb, Joyce Carol Oates, Hanya Yanagihara, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, George Orwell – shall I go on? I hate picking just one.

Arianna: Ohhh this question is always so difficult to answer! Neal Stephenson is a big one; I will read whatever he comes out with and have read all of his backlog. With other authors, it’s usually one work that I fall in love with, not the entire oeuvre. I am totally going to cop out of this answer, I am sorry!

Your blog, in 2 sentences:

AmberBug: How about two words? Eclectic & Casual.

Arianna: Couldn’t say it better myself – thanks, Amber!

Book you’d like to see on the big screen:

AmberBug: The Stranger Next Door by Amélie Nothomb or A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (although I wouldn’t want it to ruin my experience).

Arianna: I’m going to look at recent releases I’ve enjoyed, because it’s less likely they will have already made it to the screen! Let’s see – At the Water’s Edge (Gruen) would be fun to see. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (Valentine), Illuminae (Kaufman & Kristoff), The Walled City (Graudin), Circling the Sun (McLain) – it appears I enjoy historical fiction and sci-fi translated to the big screen! Oh, and I am eagerly awaiting The Sisters Brothers (deWitt) and Ready Player One (Cline).

One more addition! Kiera Knightley has bought the rights to The Other Typist, which we both reviewed on our blog, and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing how that one is translated into the big screen.

And to finish off our interview, if you could go on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

AmberBug: Hunter S. Thompson – Road trip to anywhere he wants to go. I’d like to get a little mad, crazy and tipsy with him.

Arianna: Now I am getting distracted imagining Amber on a road trip with Thompson… all I can see is a crazy sugar-fueled version of Fear & Loathing! I love it. Anyway, hmm. I think I’d love to spend hours in the car with David Foster Wallace’s amazing brain. I haven’t yet seen The End of the Tour, though, so I have yet to find out if he is an absolutely terrible road trip companion.

Thanks so much Amber (aka AmberBug) and Arianna, for spending some time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out ShelfNotes and titles in Fiction (Adult) now available on NetGalley! 

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*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret


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