Monday, August 21, 2017 | | 0 comments
Are you on Instagram? I am! It’s fun! If you follow/have followed me there, I changed my handle to @ceceliareads in June. It’s all books all the time. My personal handle (for photos of not-book things – most likely scenery, sports & coffee) is still live, too.

After I changed my handle I mentioned to several real-life friends that I’d started to do the “bookstagram thing.” Most of them couldn’t see any difference between my feed then and my feed now, so I guess we’ll chalk that up to me being extra on-brand with bookstagram. I did get one complaint about too many photos of socks, but what can you do? #socksunday, y’all.

For those not in the know, bookstagram (with or without the #) is the bookish community on Instagram. Participants take photos of books or book-adjacent things, use the hashtag for easy discovery, and then (as far as I can tell), go around telling people how beautiful their photos are and how excited they are to read [insert book title here]. It’s pretty great.

I was inspired by a few bookstagrammers I met at the Fierce Reads party at Book Expo. I looked them up after the fact and thought, yeah, I could do that! And then I had to figure out how to take tons of photos of books without getting really boring and repetitive.

Well folks, aside from the #socksunday idea I was stumped about how to make my photos stand out. I don’t collect book swag (bookmarks, trading cards, branded knick knacks, etc.), I don’t subscribe to any book delivery services, and I can’t afford to spend a fortune at the craft store – nor do I want to. Then I had an awesome brainstorm: could I use the flowers at work?

an example of a typical bouquet at our office. see those orange mini roses?

Work for me is in a nice-ish building in downtown DC, and the office has a standing Monday morning bouquet order with a local florist. It makes the reception area look really classy. But from Friday at close of business through Monday AM, the last week’s flowers just sit there (rotting!) – and so I asked the receptionist if I could start taking them on Fridays after the end of the day. Thus, Cecelia’s Friday book & flower photoshoots were born. I now take a stack of books with me to work on Fridays and look forward to the end of the day, when I’ll get to deconstruct the current week’s vase of flowers and create a few looks to fill my feed for the following weeks. I’ve included an example of the before-and-after so you can see what I mean!

the petals made for a beautiful #bookstagram look!

Of course, the flower and book thing is a little precarious – it depends on the goodwill of the office staff and me staying late every Friday night. So, what else should I feature on my bookstagram? Hit me up with ideas!

the one that got away

I know we’re almost at the end of summer, but if you need one last read for the beach or the Labor Day weekend, I’ve got the perfect recommendation. Melissa Pimentel’s The One That Got Away is a funny and fairly adorable modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It’s a touching, feel-good story, and a must-read for anyone who has watched Austen adaptations with a smidge of envy.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past…

Ruby is a New York career woman through and through, and she’s mostly content with her life. However, with her best friend decamped to New Jersey with baby #2 on the way and her younger sister about to be married in a castle in the UK, she’s reevaluating some things – and worried about seeing her successful ex Ethan at the wedding. What follows is a then-and-now tale of love, loss, and figuring it all out again years after the fact.

Given that Pimentel’s novel is a retelling of Persuasion, you can likely guess the ending. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some unexpected twists and turns along the way though – this is a thoroughly updated version. I won’t say any more, because I think this book deserves to preserve the surprises it does have.

Beyond the plot, it’s clever and entertaining, and I found myself chuckling several times, or at least smiling down at the book with gentle amusement. Pimentel knows her audience and her pop culture, and I think she infuses the right amount of cute into a familiar storyline without edging over into sappy. I very much enjoyed The One That Got Away.

Now, I do want to be fair and mention things that brought me out of the story a bit, though they didn’t dampen my enjoyment: the first chapter is a bit of a slow set-up, and you have to just push through it and get adjusted to Ruby’s first-person narration. Don’t worry, she’s intelligent and unpretentious, and if you’re anything like me you’ll end up liking her immensely. The second thing is that the book is set up in Then chapters and Now chapters, so you slide between Ruby’s first person present and third person from the past. Third thing: there are several Briticisms scattered about that I don’t imagine would naturally be flowing through an American’s head. But, as the book was published first in the UK, this does not surprise me. And as I mentioned, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

In all, The One That Got Away is a satisfying, charming read with a heroine to root for and the perfect dose of English scenery.

Recommended for: fans of modern Jane Austen adaptations, and anyone who likes light, smart, and funny women’s fiction, √† la Marian Keyes.

The One That Got Away will be released by St. Martin’s Press on August 22, 2017.

Fine print: I received a finished copy of this book for review consideration. I did not receive any compensation for this post. 

it’s been four months. how do i like my kindle?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | | 5 comments
I resisted getting an e-reader for a long time. At the beginning of the rise of ebooks (it sounds kind of apocalyptic written out like that, right?), I was dead broke and a grad student. My money was going towards essentials, and as much as I love them, books are not essential to human survival. Neither is toilet paper. TMI? Anyway, I didn’t have money for an e-reader and friends & family didn’t gift me one, so I didn’t have one.

Then I left grad school, moved across the country twice, and got an office job. While I was slightly less broke, I couldn't justify the purchase of a dedicated device while I had a perfectly serviceable iPhone and Kindle app. This whole time, Amazon sent me “deal of the day” emails, and I bought so many discounted ebooks that browsing my ebook library started to scare me. Also by that point people in my book club were shocked I didn't have an e-reader and maybe everyone in my life assumed I was making a deliberate choice not to own one?

Fast forward another couple of years, and I fractured my eye socket playing rec league floor hockey (...). While my face healed and my vision got back to 20/20, the muscles around my eye deteriorated *just* enough that reading on my phone late at night wasn't fun or easy anymore. So it was e-reader time! And that's how I bought a Kindle Paperwhite.

What do I think of it? Well, it’s perfectly nice. I don’t mind reading on/with it. It’s certainly easier on my eyes than a phone screen. And yet… it functions more as a security blanket than as a reading device. I take great comfort in the fact that I can stick it in my bag and have hundreds of books at my fingertips. I do not actually take it out of my bag to read that often (sighhhhh). So, that’s where we are.

I may still change my habits with time and find it really useful, but in the meantime I will continue to load my Kindle up with ebooks that I very rarely read, and take pleasure in the opportunity rather than the reality.

Do you have an e-reader? Do you use it regularly?

interview with molly knox ostertag - comics extravaganza blog tour

Today’s post is part of First Second’s Comics Extravaganza blog tour. It features an interview with the super-talented Molly Knox Ostertag. Ostertag did the art for one of my favorite books of the year, Shattered Warrior, and both wrote and illustrated one of my most anticipated 2017 reads, The Witch Boy. Read on to learn more about her!

I’ve been reviewing (and reading!) more graphic novels, and I’ve been so lucky to find not only fun books, but also discover brilliant artists. From Alex Puvilland, the artist behind Scott Westerfeld’s magnificent Spill Zone, to Matt Phelan (Snow White), to Andrea Offermann, I’ve been checking out and getting a feeling for different art styles in young adult graphic novels. And today I get to feature an interview with Molly Knox Ostertag – I couldn’t be more excited. Check it:

Tell us your first memory of reading a comic or graphic novel.
My very first comic books were the Tintin comics. For some reason we only had the French editions in our house, but Herg√© is such a clear and dynamic cartoonist, so I could follow the action perfectly even without understanding the words. In high school, The Sandman series showed me that adult comics didn't have to be exclusively about superheroes, and I was hooked! 

What's your favorite comic or graphic novel, and what do you love about it?
This is one of those impossible questions, but one I think about a lot is THAT ONE SUMMER by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. I love how the story is structured, the drawings are detailed and gorgeous and restful and full of atmosphere, and I appreciate how it's a young adult book that doesn't talk down to its readers.

Tell us a little about your latest graphic novel. 
I have two out this year. SHATTERED WARRIOR, out from First Second, is a collaboration with fantasy/sci fi romance novelist Sharon Shinn, and is about survival and finding love in a dystopian society ruled by tyrannical aliens. THE WITCH BOY, out from Scholastic this fall, is my first solo project, a story about a boy who wants to become a witch, even though in his family traditionally only women are allowed to be witches. 

What comic or graphic novel are you reading now? 
I just read ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson because I'm trying to catch myself up on all the excellent middle-grade graphic novels that have come out in the past few years. I loved it! It's a sweet and boisterous story about roller derby and pre-teen friendships with a moral that I really appreciated. 

Molly Knox Ostertag grew up in the forests of upstate New York and read far too many fantasy books as a child. She studied cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys the beach year-round but misses good bagels. While at school she started drawing the award-winning webcomic Strong Female Protagonist, which continues to update and be published through Kickstarter and Top Shelf Comics. She draws comics about tough girls, sensitive boys, history, magic, kissing, superpowers, and feelings. mollyostertag.com

Interested in reading more from comics authors and artists? Check out the full tour info here, or just click on any of the links below!

7/10 – YA Bibliophile interviews Shannon Hale
7/10 – Fiction Fare interviews Tillie Walden
7/11 – A Backwards Story interviews Landis Blair
7/11 – Bluestocking Thinking interviews Mike Lawrence
7/12 – Book Crushin interviews MK Reed
7/12 – Miss Print interviews Scott Westerfeld
7/12 – Ex Libris Kate interviews Box Brown
7/13 – Love Is Not a Triangle interviews Nick Abadzis
7/13 – I’d So Rather Be Reading interviews Alison Wilgus
7/14 – The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia interviews Molly Ostertag
7/14 – Adventures of a Book Junkie interviews Nidhi Chanani

Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Shattered Warrior yet, you totally should! Here’s the synopsis (or read my review!):

shattered warrior by sharon shinn and molly knox ostertag book cover
It is ten years after Colleen Cavanaugh's home world was invaded by the Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet's mineral resources.

Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of the violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Together, Colleen, Jann, and Lucy create their own tenuous family.

But Colleen must decide if it's worth risking all of their survival to join a growing underground revolution against the Derichets.
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