Tag Archives: reader

The Barnes and Noble Employee in the Ugly Polo

Yesterday, my friend Kathy and I made a most exciting discovery: the Barnes and Noble here in Madison has a large used book section! And better yet, most of the used books only cost $1. Understandably, we threw out all our other plans for the evening and started exploring. 

Enter the Barnes and Noble employee. I think he might have been in management because he wore a very ugly polo and just sort of floated around the store. On second thought, he might just have been the intern. Hard to tell. 

When I first saw him, I was walking around with a basket overflowing with books. He politely said, “How are you doing?” which surprised me because I do not usually think of great customer service when I think of Barnes and Noble. So I beamed, told him I was doing very well, and moved on. 

Over the course of the next few hours (it is a very big Barnes and Noble, okay?) I saw him several times. Mostly he would walk over to the table where Kathy and I started stacking books and look as if he would like to re-shelve them. I would hurry over and make eye-contact as if to say, ‘Still here! Don’t take my books!’

He would then give me a friendly smile and move on. At one point, he even paused to say, “I highly recommend Anna Karenina.”

Well, dang! A guy who loves Tolstoy? You better believe I grinned a little wider whenever he came around. And was he coming around a little more often…? 

Then we went to check out. (For the record, our piles shrank considerably between what we originally chose and what we walked out of there with. Okay, maybe not considerably. But at least by a book. Probably.) 

Ugly polo employee stood there at the check-out with a normally dressed store employee. Call me crazy but I swear I even heard him say as we approached, “And here they are.” 

My friend Kathy walked up first and he shooed her down to the other employee at the register. I thought he would do the same for me because ringing up purchases did not appear to be his job. But after a pause, he motioned me towards a register. 

I made polite small talk. Then came the inevitable question: “Do you have a Barnes and Noble membership?” 

I said no.

He smiled and said I should enroll because I would get $5 off my purchase. I asked how much it would cost me to become a member and after hearing $25, said no a little more firmly. I mean, I never shop at Barnes and Noble. It costs too much. And I don’t need an excuse to spend more money on books! These are the thoughts I clung to and it is a good thing too because the employee in the ugly polo decided to make it his personal mission that I get a membership. 

He started by listing off the immediate discounts on my purchase. I said no. Then the discounts store-wide. Then the discounts at the coffee shop. To all this I laughed and said no. He made unswerving eye contact. 

I paid with my debit and went to put in my pin. He leaned forward and, I kid you not, batted his eyelashes at me. Before I put the pin in, he said, I should reconsider. The store was running a deal and I would get a $10 giftcard if I signed up. I laughed some more and declined. 

Then I put in the wrong pin. This was a mistake. He continued on the offensive. Sometimes, Barnes and Noble members got 20% off. And it worked on already discounted items. Also, members got a two-day window to check out book deals (or something?) before the masses.  

I finally told him that I had one more year of law school and could not consider a membership until I finished and had money to buy books. He then started talking about all the law books his store had. And I would get a deal on all of them…!

Feeling slightly exasperated, I turned to Kathy and laughingly asked her to tell me to say no. 

But what was she doing? 

Signing up for a Barnes and Noble membership!

This set ugly polo guy off again. My friend was getting a membership, I should too!

Finally, leaning across the counter and getting in my personal bubble, he confided that he liked British TV shows and one time they were 50% off and with his membership he got another 20% off of that. 70% British TV shows. Amazing, huh?

I made some answer about “next time” and bolted. I am pretty sure it took me 15 extra minutes to check out because of his pushy salesmanship. But I did it. I walked out of there without a membership. 

Bu, gosh darn it, now I am afraid to go back and run into him again!

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Bookworm Memesss

A series of memes that describe what it is like when I live alone:

Me, making lists of what I need when my loans kick in:

Image result for proper noun list 100

Me, on cleaning:

Image result for thank goodness my book finally arrived i almost started cleaning the house

Me, on organizing my room:

Image result for Book

Me, in general:


Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Two stars

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff recently made the rounds as one of the more popular YA novels. I was fortunate to get a copy early. It follows the formula of other successful novelsmultiple characters who takes turns narrating, underdogs, a dystopian future. Unfortunately, I never quite fell in love with it the way other reviewers did. 

The story begins in 2380. The Aurora Academy trains elite cadets and sends them on key missions around the galaxy. Tyler Jones, future squad leader, figures he will get the best team. After all, he is the best. Instead, he misses the draft while out on a rogue mission. He rescues a girl who was comatose for 200 years from an abandoned ship and returns to find his team consists of the “leftovers.” (And his sister. And an ace pilot. But other than them, the leftovers.) 

The plot itself didn’t thrill me but what really bored me the most was the characters. Introducing…

Aurora, AKA Sleeping Beauty. She’s rescued by a handsome prince, possesses epic powers, and spends most of the book freaking out because she’s now over 200 years old. Weak when conscious and strangely powerful when not, her character change occurs abruptly and felt at odds with the story. 

Tyler Jones, AKA Golden Boy. I did not even make that up. His nickname in the book is Golden Boy. He’s a squeaky clean hero with good grades and a good personality and good looks and good friends and good everything. He bored me to tears. He lacked any compelling character traits except, perhaps, possessing an awesome twin sister.

Scarlett Jones, AKA The Flirt. Scarlet is the diplomat of the team and outside of strong loyalty to her brother and flair for fashion, her main character trait is that she has a lot of ex-boyfriends. Oh, and she’s attractive. That’s about it. 

Kal, AKA Drax the Destroyer. Nothing goes over his head! His reflexes are too fast, he would catch it. Also a main love interest which came across really weird. 

Cat, AKA The Friendzone. Her entire personality revolves around the fact that Tyler doesn’t love her. Oh, and she likes flying and tattoos. 

Fin, AKA Never Shuts Up. He’s supposed to be really sarcastic but mostly comes across vulgar. However, to give credit, he probably holds the most depth as far as motivation goes so I get why people like him the most. I personally got annoyed with him.

Zil, AKA ??? She’s a sociopath who I hope plays a bigger role in upcoming books because honestly her character was otherwise useless. 

Besides characters that lack depth, the plot tries too hard to make the reader ship everyone with everyone else (and I do mean everyone with everyone) and it does not work. You need chemistry and some semblance of motivation for your characters. Not general attractiveness. 

Glad I found out what the fuss was about but doubt I’ll read any other books in the series.


All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

Two stars

Professor Smith started with a question: does Jane Austen’s writing transcend culture and language? To find answers, she traveled in South America for a year and conducted Jane Austen book clubs in Spanish. Her readers ranged from scholarly academics to stay at home moms. 

At least in theory, the idea works well. Better yet, sometimes Professor Smith “lets her hair down” and expresses her frustrations with living abroad. She comes across whiny, cranky, and exhausted. I loved it.

But unfortunately, it does not last. For the most part, All Roads Lead to Austen presents a very careful, very sanitized, and fairly politically correct look at a few reading groups Professor Smith pulled together while traveling around South America. 

The book clubs all sounded the same. It did not matter if they were discussing Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, or Emma. The same comments about Jane Austen and her applicability to modern audiences get rehashed with the same results and conclusions. While this ought to have been “further proof” of the author’s hypothesis about Austen’s universal applicability, it mostly left me saying, “Yeah, duh.” 

Perhaps because the author is translating conversations that took place in Spanish, or perhaps because her own Spanish was still rather basic, the conversations and commentary all sounded very…juvenile. I think the problem lies with the fact that despite Professor’s Smith optimistic plan to form Austen reading groups across South America, most of her readers are exhausted, regular people who often either didn’t finish the book or just wanted to comment on the movies instead. Does it still make the writing interesting? Sure, but it lacks an academic edge. It turned any “evidence” the book provides about readers and Austen into little more than anecdotes. 

I like what the author tried to do. I just don’t think it worked the way she planned and it falls short of really making much of a difference in the Austen literature. 

 

 

(Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELLA!)


Wisconsin Murders by August Derleth

4 stars

Published in 1968, Wisconsin Murders: An Enquiry into Mayhem and Homicide in the Midwest by August Derleth recounts 16 Wisconsin murders, most of which took place in the 1800s. The victims (and murderers) range considerably, from kidnapped children to spurned former lovers to seeming strangers. A surprisingly high number involve poison. The author clearly did his research and frequently quotes from newspapers of the day. Each chapter begins with the murder, names the suspect who eventually went to trial, and concludes with the result of the trial. Sentencing varied considerably, as did claims of guilt, innocence, or insanity. 

I personally found the author the best part of the book. The maxim ‘guilty until proven innocent’ clearly did not appeal much to him. ‘Guilty and anyone who says different doesn’t know what they are talking about including the misguided jury’ might be a better term. He frequently spurns psychologists and the insanity plea, mocks “modern” criminal justice reform, and bewails the lack of a death penalty in Wisconsin. You really have to appreciate his out and out gumption while reading. (That or you won’t make it far.) 

While a strong variety, this is a very random collection of murders and I really wonder what the criteria for inclusion were. 


Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

4 stars

Short version: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews promises—and delivers—an action packed, paranormal novel with a strong female lead.

Plot: Dina Demille runs an inn. To her neighbors, she presents the picture of respectability. (Well, mostly.) But her guests know otherwise. Dina runs an inn for paranormal creatures: aliens, werewolves, vampires, you name it. As an innkeeper, she possesses incredible powers in order to keep her guests safe and Earthlings from finding out about their extraterrestrial neighbors. Usually, her biggest concern involves getting enough guests to make ends meet. But that all changes when a dangerous predator comes hunting near her inn…

Thoughts: I don’t normally read paranormal novels and Ilona Andrews (actually a husband-wife writing team) can get kind of sketchy. But this one pleasantly surprised me. Dina is a truly fascinating character. Like many modern heroines, she possesses great power. Unlike them, her power comes with a severe limit: she basically has none once she leaves the inn. Her role as innkeeper also places her in a position as a truly neutral character. She must protect both the good and bad guests who check into her inn. 

The neutrality gets played up more as the series continues with some fascinating results. Unfortunately, the next two books throw in a romance that left me underwhelmed and distracted from the cool power plays. It will be interesting to see how Book 4 goes. I think it follows Dina’s sister. (Another kick-butt female heroine.) 


Happy Book Lovers Day!

Apparently, it is Book Lovers Day! What are you reading?
I’m currently in Winning Foundation Grants by Martin Teitel and Wisconsin Murders by August Derleth. I finished Tightrope by Amanda Quick last night (terrible–you’ll find it on my end-of-the-year 1 star reads list) and The Foundling by Georgette Heyer the night before that (my third read through. Lovely.)
I’m thinking I’ll start The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer tonight or The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Depends how motivated I feel.