Books, Children, Musings

Ch-ch-changes! a.k.a. Who I Am and Why I’m Doing This

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while, or have a keen eye for dates, will note that it has been a little bit over half a year since I actively posted new content on the blog.  This was in part due to the constant onslaught of huge life altering changes I was going through at the time, and partially due to a feeling that blogging was my way of shouting into a void… and that was no longer comforting… quite the opposite in fact, rather disconcerting.  I shifted most my attention to the booktube channel that Gretchen and I started a year and a half ago and that is still going strong!

So, why come back?

Some of you might know that in October I became the Kid’s Lead at my local Barnes and Noble.  At the time I was just glad I had a full time position and could support myself again.  I didn’t realize that making the decision to work in that department would bring me some of the worst stress I have ever experienced, as well as some of the most rewarding moments I have yet to enjoy in my life.

If you talk to anyone who has worked as Kid’s Lead you will most likely hear that it is a thankless job.  Which is partially true.  Thankless on behalf of your management staff and possibly your coworkers, but by no means thankless when it comes to the customers… for the most part.

Yes, I did spend most of my day cleaning up after negligent parents who let their kids tear open toys (rather than say something squirrel them away among the picture books or under a chair as if that fixes things) or stacks upon stacks of books placed in the wrong spot, left on tables or counters, spills, leaks, broken shelves, broken displays and really that is just the tip of the ice berg.

However, I had way more meaningful interactions with teachers, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, relatives, family friends, and the kids themselves filled with gratitude for the time I put into helping them.  Which is what I loved.  I was often accused of being too task focused (building displays and ignoring customers) when the reality of the situation was, that I felt obliged to build the displays because there was a deadline hanging over my head.  If I didn’t finish it by the deadline I would lose my job.  I wasn’t actively avoiding the customers but I was trying to juggle too many balls and pretend like it was cool.

The Kid’s Lead is in charge not only of a majority of the selling in the kids department but the construction and maintenance of  all displays (tables, endcaps, you name it) the selling of the Barnes and Noble kid’s club cards which save parents money on kids book through rebates after a certain amount has been spent in store.  The selling of what is called a PWP or Promo with Purchase (I’m sure you’ve seen the Get this picture book for just 7.99 with the purchase of any other kids book).  Shelving the new product that comes in on a daily basis as well as  the back stock that is coming to replace the product that has already been sold.  Along with covering breaks around the store, and helping whenever someone else in the store needs an extra set of hands.

It is hard to find a balance where you can do all of that well and still dedicate the time necessary to the customers who are brimming with excellent questions.

I’m not complaining.  I liked the challenge.  I liked doing all that, and though it took me five months I finally got a handle on all of it.  Was able to schedule  myself and manage my time in a way that worked.  Not only that  but my department was flourishing.  We were doing better than our sales the year previously (which anyone who has ever worked in retail knows is the only thing Store Managers really care about).  I had regulars coming to the events we held like weekly story time.  I was implementing new displays and new product that my community had been asking for but the company hadn’t quite gotten around to seeing that it was worthwhile to stock yet (or were willfully ignoring).

Then I was told that the very decisions that were making the store money and that I had spent months planning, researching, working on with my direct supervisors and my team were in fact counter productive, wasting company time and money, creating a unique atmosphere in an environment that should be the same no matter which store you walked into around the country by the one person who technically holds all the power.  Something inside me snapped.

I fought back for what I knew was right.  I expected to be fired on the spot.  Little did I know that a week later I would be resigning.

Again, I loved my job, no matter how many times I broke down in a panic attack crying hysterically unable to breath or speak or be.  No matter how many times I was told that I wasn’t good enough.

I knew that the truth was they weren’t good enough for me.  They were expecting the work of three people from one person.  They were expecting miracles and when I was getting those miracles to happen they got upset that they weren’t the ones to come up with those ideas.  It is easy to blame failure on someone who is struggling and when working with three of your limbs tied behind your back it felt impossible.  I was replaceable in a way, the requirements to be hired with my job were low although the reality of the job is near impossible.  On top of all that, rather than support from the upper management as a person who is doing more than necessary and achieving the impossible. you get jealousy thrown in your face and told to tear all of your work down.

I didn’t need to live with that.

I didn’t need to spend so much money on books that I needed to read in order to talk to kids and parents about them.

I didn’t need to spend my free time at home cutting out handmade snowflakes to decorate my section for Christmas or come in two hours early or stay three hours late to build a Mailbox out of wrapping paper and cardboard that looked like it was headed straight to the North Pole for our Polar Express event.  I was going above and beyond and it was killing me.  They didn’t deserve it.

I loved what I was doing, since I couldn’t do it there without actually collapsing into a pile of mush I’m going to try and bring it here.

I’m going to use this blog to try and create a resource for the community I was forced to leave, as well as anyone else around the interwebs who might need it.

I’m going to try and give recommendations, explain certain quirks about the industry, and bridge the gap between parents and educators whenever possible.

If you would like to help me in this please feel free to email me: thepiedpipercalls@gmail.com

If you have questions or concerns or just want general bookish recommendations tailored to you, also feel free to email me or leave comments.  Tweet.  Whatever it takes.  I want to help and you deserve to get it.  Whether I get paid for it or not.

I am here for you, when nobody else would defend you.  I stood up.  I’m taking the fight to the streets as it were.

I hope you are excited.  I haven’t been this excited about something in so long.  I’m ready.

The first step for me is to post some of the content that has been on the youtube channel that pertains to kids stuff that hasn’t migrated over here.  I will be staggering that in over the next few months with new posts and ideas as well.

I hope I can be of service to you in some way or another.

Best Regards,

Michaela

p.s. (I made a video explaining in more detail what happened if you care to know the main point of this was to explain the shift in content and sudden reappearance)

Adult, Books, Musings

Try a Chapter Tag

I don’t know if this tag has made its way to the blogging community (probably because I am super late to be posting this here … HA!) but the premise is simple.  Pick some books from your shelves that have been sitting unread and read the first chapter.

This is a great tag for people in reading slumps or who are so excited about too many books and need to pick one… as long as you pick one and don’t keep cycling books chapter by chapter.

 

I tried to step my editing game up a bit with this one.  I have been trying to push myself not only here but in all aspects of my life.  I am tired of being sad and mopey, it is time to stand tall and be proud of the things that I do.

Books, Musings

Betwixt the Books Discuss! Some People Want to Read Your Sh!t

So this hangout actually occured a week ago but I figured that I should post it sooner rather than later in the hopes that it would still be somewhat topical.

This was Gretchen and my sort of response to a fellow booktuber declaring to the community that he would not read unsolicited material for free.  This led to discussions of policy and reviewing, endorsements, ethics, all sorts of stuff.  If that sounds like your jam then please watch the discussion.  We also really want any sort of input that people can give us on the topic.  Is he right, are we?

There we are!  I hope you guys enjoyed it!  Still going strong on the post something every day front! *laughs because it is only the second of September*

 

Adult, Books, Comics, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

Summer Reading Wrap Up

So it has been a while since I have wrapped up the books I have read.  Not only has it been difficult for Gretchen and I to get together all summer for various reasons (time conflicts, mental health, internet being actual butts) so you weren’t getting weekly wrap ups in any way but I have been completely nonexistent on the blog.  Which we all know I am attempting to change here and now… hopefully forever, but no promises.

In any case I am going to try and talk a bit about all of the books I have read in June, July, and August.

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This was the first book for book club this season so there is a full discussion on it here!  I loved this.  I still feel that way.  It did seem to check all of the boxes of things that Michaela would like though.  So if you feel very strongly that we are akin then definitely check this out.

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This was an ARC review I did back in June.  It wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read this year but I definitely did enjoy it.  I had heard of Lisa Jewell as an author and this was my first of hers.  I think that I will look into some of her other work.  She is a bit more commercial than I usually go for but not bad by any means.

The second book club book was Gretchen’s pick and I was super not a fan.  That could have been due to the fact that I was super ill at the time of reading it but I kind of hated it.

Next we kicked off the second season of Nostalgia Junkie.  Unfortunately the unanimous decision on this was that we weren’t super huge fans.  It may be that we just aren’t the target audience but we all had issues with it.

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Taylor’s pick for the first round of book club was a debut and we all really liked it.  It was surprising because it takes a really good book to win all three of us over.  This one did it so you should definitely check that out!

Gretchen and I read Nimona together and we did a video review of it for you guys.  It was super cute and sweet and we completely understood why so many people loved it.  I have followed Noelle Stevenson for a while and new she is a cookie to pay attention to in comics.  Watch her.  She will do great things.


I started the second round of summer book club picks with Middlesex.  Taylor was the one who liked this book the most, Gretchen and I had a bit of an issue with the way it was laid out. You should watch the whole discussion to find out more.

I have to say that I do so love Patton Oswalt.  I haven’t spoken about this anywhere else.  It was a pick for my pop sugar challenge and I listened to it on audio, read by the man himself.  It is always great to listen to autobiographical works when written by the author and especially so when he is as awkward and nerdy as you.

Now we find ourselves in the books I read for booktubeathon.  This was my pick for the book I would only read at night.  I both read the physical edition and listened to parts on audio.  I actually wound up enjoying it more than I thought I would.  It also fulfilled the requirement of a book that is more than 100 years older than me for the Pop Sugar challenge.

This was listened to entirely on audio.  I was conflicted with this.  I was expecting a bit of a funnier story from Steve Martin.  That isn’t to say I wasn’t a fan of his writing style, it just caught me off guard.  It was about a community that I haven’t spent much time learning about so I did enjoy that aspect of it.

This one will be featured in an upcoming post so look out for that.  It was a book with yellow on the cover and a book I learned about from booktube.  I ended up really enjoying this one though it took me a while to decide that.  It was definitely one the the end justified the rest of the book for me.  I like what it was saying politically.

This was both Taylor and my own book to movie adaptation and we both came out of it feeling like … welp that was a mess.  I think it was meant to be a mess.  It was really entertaining but all over the place.  We both enjoyed it but were mildly disoriented by the experience.  Which I think is apt.


I reviewed this one on the blog yesterday actually!  So here we have an interesting new comic coming from Image.  We all know how much I love Image.  If you like robots and stories that ask what it means to be human then definitely give this one a go.

Gretchen and I did a discussion of this one but the audio ended up being a bit borked.  Over all I enjoyed the experience.  It read a bit like fanfiction but it was nice to dip back into a world that I loved as a child.  I am curious to see if watching it as a play would be better than reading it if I ever get a chance to do so.

David Wong is a comic god.  Well, he is.  This one isn’t my favorite of his works but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book and he isn’t a good writer.  I loved hearing from a female protagonist it did change the way the story progressed for me.  If you like science fiction and laughing, give this one a go.

There will be a future review of this one on the blog as well.  Gretchen and I have already filmed it, it just needs to make its way out into the world.  We enjoyed listening to the audio book but we didn’t feel like it ended up doing for us what it was trying to. It was a delight to listen to though so there is that.

This book is most likely going to be in my top 10 books of the year.  It honestly blew me away.  It will also be featured in an upcoming review.  I went into this book skeptical and came out just amazed.  She was able to do so much and so well.  I loved it.  A must read in my opinion.

This was a comic that I picked up based on Taylor’s recommendation.  He had really enjoyed it or had heard good things about it, I am not certain which at this point but I picked it up.  It wasn’t my favorite comic but it did go somewhere entirely unexpected and I give it props for that.

And now we reach the last book I read in August which happens to be Gretchen’s pick for the second round of book club.  This showed up on the blog earlier this week so you can find our discussion of it there.  I enjoyed it, even if much of that video is us picking apart the book.  Sometimes you just have to say, it was a fun experience.

Apparently I have read 19 books in the last three months… which honestly amazes me since I have been struggling to read.  A lot of them were audio books and a good chunk were thanks to the booktubeathon but hey they were things that I read.  I have been reading more in the last couple weeks so the hope is that I am feeling safer in myself again and will be able to read a whole bunch more and talk about it with you guys.  That is the hope anyway.

As far as my reading challenges go:

Goodreads: 66/50 surpassed!
Pop Sugar: 27/40 (13 left I think I can do it!)

How are you guys doing after the summer?  Are you excited for fall.  It is my favorite season and I am in the mood for all of the Horror books!  I need a bunch of cider and pumpkin bread and some crisp fall air and I will be a happy girl.

Talk to you guys tomorrow!

Adult, Books, Comics

Descender Vol 1. : Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire

Comic book day!  Here is a review I did several weeks back now on the first Volume of Descender (Spoilers: I really like the art guys).

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Comic Title: Descender
Volume # & Title: 1: Tin Stars
Collected Issues: #1-6
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: Image Comics
Page #: 160
Genre: Science Fiction

 

Anybody else read Descender?  Anybody else as obsessed with literally everything that Image Comics publishes.  I swear to god they have so many great new imaginative things coming out every month and it hurts my heart and my wallet.

Musings, Books, YA (Young Adult), Bibliomancy For Beginners

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Review (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

That’s right folks we are almost done with this season of Bibliomancy for Beginners only one more book! *shock and awe*

I know you guys are all sad about it but don’t worry we have super secret plans in the works.  Secret plans you won’t hear about until the end of the next episode so be sure to stay tuned in!

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Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Browne Books for Young Readers
Page #: 517
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

 

Almost done.  I believe.  Let’s go.

Musings

Sometimes I’m a Slacker but sometimes my slacking is mostly just in cross promoting.

So we know I haven’t been posting here super consistently… still trying to get back in the swing of things.  I swear to god I can do the thing.  I did it for five months, posting almost every day.  Depression and anxiety can wreck a person I tell you.  I did however have consistant content elsewhere that needs to migrate over here.

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In order to get myself back into the habit of blogging I am going to try and post something every day in September.  Will I succeed?  YES.  (I figure if I’m optimistic I might actually finish something I start.)  Will it all by mind blowing content… of course not.  I might choose to do something silly once … or twice. The goal is just to get myself used to doing this every day again.  To talking with you guys because I do miss it.  I just kind of panic and feel guilty.

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NO MORE!

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Starting today … oh wait its still August for a few more days.  Starting …. THURSDAY!  I will have a post for you every day, even Sunday.  You know what … what the heck STARTING TODAY!  I got no reason not to start today.  You guys ready for all of the content?  Well too bad because its coming.

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I need to put on my big girl pants and crack on.  Here we go!

P.S. I like the acronym B.E.D.S. for Blog Every Day in September because it feels safe and cozy.  What do you think?

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