Betwixt the Books Discuss: Money Talks?

Wherein we talk about how Amazon is changing the discourse we use to talk about ARCS and Review Copies, Goodreads changing their Giveaway Function, and YouTube changing the rules around partnership.

There is also an issue with my audio. Sorry! I’m trying to figure out why it is happening but I’m technologically illiterate.

Thesis Thursday: Thesis Defended

13095941_10209728188466067_7456087342351197460_nWell. Here we are. The last Thesis Thursday post. Last Wednesday, I successfully defended my 84 page behemoth that had 7 pages of work cited, single spaced. The only thing I have left to do is get it bound and submit a copy to the English Department. My panel has already decided that I get English Honors, so there is no stress left. Just the finished project.

Chapter One, which took up all of last semester, 16034235was the real, serious English-y investigation. I read five YA female assassin novels and talked about how YA literature is either letting girls be their real, strong selves or … not. Mostly it was not. Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass remained my shining centerpiece, but … well. Graceling by Kristin Cashore actually sort of held up, but Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker, Bridget Zinn’s Poison and RL LaFevers’ Grave Mercy did not. All the links I just inserted are to my reviews or re-reviews of those books. Mostly, I ended up talking about how YA tropes end up promising strong female characters and then don’t give us that–and that makes me angry.

12801277_10209140220927246_1575951528546352262_nChapter Two y’all saw some of, but that was the hardest chapter to write. I was talking about the commodification of YA book covers, but my original thesis didn’t hold up. I ended up needing a lot more quantitative research than I expected, and I had to redo my entire thesis statement. In the end, what I ended up saying is that the YA book cover industry looks a lot more diverse than it used to, but only for books that can pay for good cover art. Everything else is still blase look-alike kind of stuff. I actually did a video summarizing some of my research!

Chapter Three was the one that made me REALLY angry. I even posted a video about how it13094374_10209689763425465_2413078371465464007_n almost got me to stop blogging for like 30 seconds. It was all about how the publishing industry uses the free labor of teens to get their marketing data, but how a lot of the really GOOD data is ignored for information about what sells–like love triangles. It was all stuff I knew, really, but seeing it proven was just … wow. It was worse than I thought, I guess.

At my defense, my advisor–who’s been with me through all four years of college–got kind of nostalgic about all that time she’s known me, and now seeing this project come to fruition. She knows better than almost everyone else how much time and energy I put into my study and love of YA, and how much this project really means to me. It isn’t just a research project. It’s the culmination of years of my life spent blogging and reading, and a deep love of YA literature that is coupled with a serious desire for improvement within the genre. I guess, in a way, I hadn’t thought about this as the project I’ve been working on for all those years. This was just, you know, this year. But … she’s right. It never was. This is my heart and soul on these pages.

13139156_10209728182145909_7859981542704917588_nAnd now it’s done. Well, the paper anyways. I’m far from done. This project has shown me that this kind of research–in YA, on YA–is what I really want to do. I want to live this kind of work. Yeah, I’m going to Korea for a year, but this is the end goal. I want to go to grad school and do an even better version of this project. I want to say something that someone is going to listen to. This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning.

Weekly Wrap Up + What We Read 5/15/16

We are aware that this wrap up is late! Between Michaela’s car troubles and my senior week/graduation, this are the things that happen. Bear with us, friends, because once I graduate on Sunday there will be one less opportunity for disasters. Which will be replaced by my going back to work fulltime, but it’s okay. We’ll all be okay.

Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Friday:

From the Notebook: How My Thesis Almost Made Me Stop Blogging

Seriously. I’m not kidding. As I promised in my last Thesis Thursday, here’s an attempt at a better explanation of what happened while I was writing my third and final chapter. I know it sounds kind of depressing, but it isn’t. It’s really more about how I think I can be a better blogger, and maybe change YA literature along the way!

Thesis Thursday: First Complete Draft is … Complete

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

13094374_10209689763425465_2413078371465464007_nYou heard that right, folks. Since the last time I made one of these posts … I did it. I wrote the first draft of my third chapter. It lives and breathes in the world, bringing my page total for the first draft up to 75 pages altogether.

The fight is far from over. In fact, I really should be editing right now. However, all of the initial hard work is … done. On top of that, my defense was just scheduled for next Wednesday, so time is really running out on this whole thing. I can see the finish line–for this, as well as school in general.

I think there are only going to be one more of these posts, considering that there will be a Thursday right after my defense. Wow. What am I going to do with my Thursdays now?

Well. Hang on. Back up. Let’s talk about this third chapter that just, as far as these posts are concerned, appeared out of nowhere. The working title is all over the place, because I don’t like it and it’s really long, but here’s the gist: big, traditional publishers exploit teen online engagement for their own marketing gains, but focus on what their research says will make the next bestseller and NOT the next good book. While authors can make use of these new media outlets these days, publishers ten to ignore them and instead create these debilitating feedback loops with their own marketing departments that keep us trapped within really bad trends.

Out of all three chapters, this is the first one that really made me … angry. Like, really tumblr_mkqimsivr61ruw1vso1_500angry. And all the stuff I researched and talked about, it’s nothing that I didn’t at least subconsciously know about YA publishing. But seeing it, reading it, understanding the depth of the madness–it’s just terrifying.

I write posts like In Defense of YA: We need a Rebellion of Our Own because I genuinely love YA, and I believe that the genre has a powerful role to play in literature if only we can rescue it from its dependence on tropeism and “what sells.” However, writing an essay like this and seeing how far the traditional publishers go to keep producing the next new megahit … it’s sad. I start to wonder if the whole idea of a rebellion isn’t just some cute idea. I start to wonder if YA is eventually going to implode on itself, and if I’ll have to watch the whole genre fall apart.

200_sNot to be a total Debbie Downer, I guess that’s why I do this kind of research: because I think I can say something that someone can here. And my research did turn up a bunch of publishers doing really important and innovative things because they believe as I do. So, the battle isn’t lost. But, still.

I’ll probably come out with a From the Notebook video on Monday talking about how this paper literally made me consider deleting my blog and throwing in the towel on my participation in these schemes. Obviously, I only considered that for about 0.1 seconds before I threw the idea out entirely, because I love you guys and this community and I get excited about books and what we do. I could never leave.

But this paper did make me think about it. And other things.

Really wish I had time to process those things, but it is not this day. I have chapters to edit 5dfa891ff25b2dcdd6fdbba908cf9130and other papers to write and graduation to get through. There will only be one more Thesis Thursday post, I think, and then I’ll try to figure out something new to do with the day. I’ll tell you guys all about my defense, and maybe wrap all this work up a but more thoroughly. For now, though, this post is the honest truth.

I hate YA. I love YA. I really, really want to fix it. Who’s with me?

Betwixt the Books: 2016 Bookish Resolutions Videos

Hey there guys! As promised in our 2015 wrap up videos, Michaela and I are back to talk about our personal blogging and bookish resolutions for 2016. Learn about what’s coming to My Life is a Notebook and The Pied Piper Calls–and maybe here some super secret information about giveaways if you watch all the way to the end!

Hope you guys are as excited for 2016 as we are!

Hello Summer, Hello Blogosphere!

Well, well, what do we have here? A blog I haven’t touched since February? Oh man, that’s so sad. Apologies, guys. If I ever said things were crazy before, understand that this semester reached a whole new level. To put it plainly, I loaded up on 21 credits, three jobs and an internship and life just went bonkers the whole way. I was lucky I was getting my school work done, let alone anything else.

But lo and behold, I made it to summer. And lo and behold, I’m revamping the blog. Like the new look? Bibliomancy for Beginners is going to start up again in a week or so, and I’m actually going to be able to read. Back in January, I said that I wanted to play catch up with my have-but-need-to-read list, and I still want to do that. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Bibliomancy for Beginners will be happening every week. That’s for sure. I’m going to try to get back into Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday, at the very least. ARC reviews will be few and fair between, because I have too many that I never read as I promised and that’s just not fair.

It WILL be a truncated summer, because I’m leaving for my semester abroad in early August. But that’s a while away. For now, I’m just going to start reading.

Thanks for sticking around, guys. My plan is to many it worth your while!

So a month and a half later…

arielHere’s me, Gretchen, coming back up for air. Sorry guys, it’s been a while!

I’ll be honest, this break was actually half my choice. All of the sudden life went crazy and I didn’t know what to do about it. This whole year, really, has been a loop-de-loop of epic proportions, and it’s taken me forever to get it back under control. To be honest, it’s not back under control, but at least right now I’m not at college. That’s a little bit of a break, at least.

One thing that I know for sure, though, is that I miss blogging like nobody’s business. This has been a part of my life for so long, I don’t know how to go on without it–and all of you.

Another thing that’s crossed my mind is how absurdly long my have-but-need-to-read list is on Goodreads. If you don’t know whatburied-in-books I mean, that’s a list I have that keeps track of how many books I own that I haven’t yet read. Some are ARCs, some are books I’ve bought. I haven’t even updated the list in a while, and it’s still 100 books long. That’s really scary.

I wasn’t able to keep up with blogging because I overtaxed myself with ARCs and other timed stipulations. Well, no more. Good God, that list is a whole YEAR of reading, if this year’s Goodreads Challenge is anything to go by. A bunch of those are ARCs I requested and received and then never held up my end of the bargain. I hate that. So I’m going to fix it.

I’m going to try to keep up with Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday. I love those memes, and I don’t want to stop doing them. I want to keep vlogging, so Stacking the Shelves may continue to exist in some capacity, even though I plan on need requesting any more ARCs for the time being. Some Bibliomancers and I may be soon bringing you a Series of (Un)fortunate videos. I’m going to talk to Marina and see if she still loves me. To this, I’m going to add in a “Random Reads” post each week.

Random Reads will work like so: Every week, I’m going to plug some numbers into Random.org. These will represent the positions of the 100 or so books on that Goodreads list. Random.org will give me a number. That will be the book that I read that week. Sound good?

I hope so, because this is going to be the only way I defeat this list!

So what’s my first Random Read going to be?

INHUMAN by Kat Falls!

Inhuman

Check back next week for a week full of posts from yours truly! I hope. My fingers are crossed!

BREAKING NEWS: My Life is a Notebook Adds a Co-Blogger!

Hey there all! Here comes the really huge news that I’ve been dying to share with you guys. As you know, college has been a huge timesuckMarina and Gretchen for me away from this blog, and I’ve had trouble keeping up with posting. I’ve been searching for a co-blogger for a while now, and I’m SO happy to announce that I’ve found one in my friend Marina! We’ve been friends for more years then I really believe have passed now (I met Marina FRESHMAN YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL and now I’m a COLLEGE SOPHOMORE, I AM SO OLD). Seriously, she’s one of my bestest best friends. Even though we live on opposite ends of the country. (Yay Skype and texting and Facebook!)

But without further ado, she’ll introduce herself!

Rina-1Hi, everybody!  I actually have no idea what Gretchen’s going to write at the top of this post, but I assume she introduced me and I don’t need to say who I am.  I’m a Classics and Anthropology major at a university in Colorado, where I spend silly amounts of unnecessary time in the library.  I also dance a lot of Argentine tango—not only in official venues, but in places like the university fountain, people’s kitchens, and a bowling alley on a Navy base.  I’ve been chatting about reading and writing with Gretchen since high school, which seems strangely long ago at this point.

But those are not the important things when it comes to this blog!  Here are some bookish things about me:

My tastes run a bit more literary than Gretchen’s a lot of the time, although not always.  I also don’t always stick to YA, but I promise that if (okay, let’s get real, when) I review non-YA books on here I’ll tell you why they’re appealing to me as a reader of YA.

I read extremely fast.  This leads to many rereads.

I love gorgeous prose, amazing characters, and atmosphere.  I like fantasy because I love seeing weird new ideas.  I’m a little tired of dystopian, vampires, etc but I’ll give it a go if it looks good.  I adore complex books that will take me a long time to finish, and my favorite books are always books that make me think long after I’ve put them down.

I think the worst sin a book can commit (beyond being terrible, at least) is being forgettable.  I will also rant at books that do bad gender things, just on principle.

A few books I’m exceedingly fond of at the moment, to give you an idea:

  • The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (I may review this one if I get a chance, actually, as it’s recent)
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • Deathless by Catherynne M Valente
  • Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore (but not Bitterblue.  Seriously, what happened there?)
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley

I say a few because this list varies from month to month, and by the time October rolls around I may be in the mood for pirates or something.

Anyway, that’s me!  Hello!  It’s lovely to be here, and I can’t wait to get started!

Armchair BEA: Introductions

Armchair BEA

Have you ever had that moment where you’re like “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING BUT GERONIMO”? Because I’m having that right now. This is my first time participating in Armchair BEA, because I’m way too depressed that I don’t get to actually go to BEA. Also, I’ve been stalking this event since I first heard about it and decided it was time to man up. So here’s my introduction, I guess!

Headshot1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Well, my name is Gretchen, and I’ve been blogging for about three years. When I started this blog, it was for my poetry, because I got it in my head that I wanted to try writing a poem a day. When the embarrassment of having my poetry online for all to see became too much, I realized DUH I LOVE BOOKS and that it was far less painful to fangirl over the books I was reading. That transition happened slowly, though, so I can’t give it an exact date. From that point on, blogging was practically an addiction because … well, I don’t have to tell you guys how cool this is. 😛

2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

I am blogging from a teeny tiny town in the Adirondacks of New York. Middle of Nowheresville, Nowhere, is honestly the best name for it. Although most of the year I blog from college, which is Ithaca College in Ithaca, Ny (I’m a rising sophomore). For something special about my current location … I live on a lake with awesome sunsets? I think that’s pretty special.

lake3. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

I’m currently in between books, having just finished The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller and just about to start The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise. My favorite book so far in 2013 is probably Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. ALL. THE. FEELS.

4. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I am a PADI certified scuba diver, with certifications in Altitude Diving, DPV or underwater scooter driving and underwater photography! I think that’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Me scuba5. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read? 

Is it bad that one of my favorite posts is a rant post that I wrote? I had just DNFed Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey, and I got on my soap box about the messages that young girls can take away from books like that. It was the most impassioned post I think I’ve ever written, and I’m still really proud of it.