Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

when dimple met rishi via paper trail diary

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon, out now

If you follow any YA readers (and not just YA) anywhere online, no doubt you’ve seen the cover of When Dimple Met Rishi flow through your timeline a number of times in the last six months. The longlasting excitement for this book has been impressive and telling of how needed it is to the contemporary YA genre. While at its core, it is another cute teen romance, it’s not just any other cute teen romance, because the teens that are falling for each other are Indian, and they’re dealing with issues in their families that have to do with their race. This is huge, because this is part of YA publishing growing up and becoming more inclusive. When Dimple Met Rishi falls alongside of the Lara Jean Covey books in that the story includes POC characters at the forefront, and it’s just about their normal kinds of teenage lives, rather than a tough story about society vs their race (don’t get me wrong – those books are super important, too). I was thrilled every time I saw someone tweet about how they finally see themselves on a book cover/in a book. And all the build-up and talk about how important this book is proved more than worth it, when it cracked onto The New York Times bestsellers list for YA hardcover fiction in its first week of publication. Huzzah!

Here’s a quick gist of the book: Dimple has just graduated high school and is thrilled to be going to university, but she can’t get her mom off her back about needing to have an arranged marriage. When her parents quickly say OK to letting her go to a summer camp for coding, she’s skeptical as to how fast they’re letting her go, but too excited to care about it. But when she arrives on campus, she’s soon greeted by a boy that shouts “hello, future wife!” This is Rishi – he’s been signed up for the camp, too, except he’s 100% aware that his parents planned with Dimple’s parents to sneakily set them up there, and more than aware, this is what he wants, whereas Dimple doesn’t want to think about marriage until she’s much older. So of course things start out tense and uncomfortable, but soon enough, the two are paired together in class, and Dimple starts to let her guard down, falling for Rishi, even though she still doesn’t want to marry him.

I had fun reading When Dimple Met Rishi. The two of them are fantastic characters and enjoyable to follow through their awkward situation, and on their own. We’ve got an ambitious girl and a guy who respects his elders. They feel pretty real, and their family relationships do, too. They’re responsible but still have fun. The interaction between the two is electric, adorable, and sexy. I liked how Rishi won Dimple over, and how he thought about her; he makes the perfect book boyfriend being all feminist, respectful, and all that. He was quick to pick up on when classmates were treating her wrongly and would defend her without a beat of thought. (Not saying Dimple needed that, but as she’s shy and grew up not used to defending herself, it was nice to have someone there for her.)

There were a few things that bothered me, though, and I just want to point them out. I understand that this story is a love story, but, it made me really wish for a story about an ambitious girl that doesn’t include her falling in love and thus distracted. A girl that wants to go to college for a specific career and works her way there. I could still enjoy this book while reading, but I did have that thought in the back of my mind the whole time. And even though Dimple came for coding camp, it’s a rare mention in the book, and it doesn’t read like the author did any research on the topic – there’s nothing specific, and I felt like that could have been a great addition. And then the camp story gets totally sidetracked by a weird talent contest that doesn’t feel like it fits, but it serves as a way for the couple to get even closer as they learn how to dance Bollywood together (bow wowwww). I just felt disappointed in that.

Overall, I’m so happy this book is here and doing so much for the teens who need it. It’s an sweet, light story, perfect for summer, and will continue to be a big heavyweight in the camp of adorkable YA contemporary romance for a long time.

An advanced reading copy of the book was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster, in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion.

This entry was posted in Books.

Join the Book Lover Postcard Swap: Summer Edition!

Book Lover Postcard Swap - Summer

We took a few months off, but Barb and I are ready to bring you another round of the book lover postcard swap! We’re very excited for this one, and think there will be lots of opportunity for super cool postcards.

This round’s theme is summer reads — you’re to write on your postcard about a book (or two, or three, etc) that you’re excited to kick back with in the sun!

Here are the dates:

Sign up by Sunday, June 11. We’ll then send you an email with your match information within a few days.

Send the postcard by Monday, June 26.

For sign up and more info, keep reading:

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Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever Lara Jean via Paper Trail Diary

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han, out now.

Everyone was surprised when Jenny Han announced that her Lara Jean duology would become a trilogy, even Jenny herself. But she made a really good decision when she started typing up Lara Jean’s life again, providing a conclusion readers (and herself included) could be satisfied with. I’m satisfied, as P.S. I Still Love You never quite felt like an ending to me, and it gave me another few days with the delightful Covey/Song family. When Jenny was recently in Toronto on her book tour, she said how writing this book felt like getting another round of drinks (or desserts), like she was having that last sweet taste, and then saying goodbye, and that she’s happy with the way things went.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean brings our charming protagonist into a cycle she’s been familiar with as an observer. Now she’s experiencing it first hand. In the first book, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean watches as her big sister Margot breaks up with her long-term boyfriend Josh when she goes away to university. The girls’ late mother had always told them, ‘don’t be the girl that goes to college with a boyfriend.’ Which is kind of harsh, but it does have some truth to it. Lara Jean couldn’t understand why Margot would cut ties with the one she loved, but never really thought about what she would do in the same situation. Which is where we are for book three: Lara Jean is inches away from university, but her and Peter are closer than they’ve ever been. Lara Jean and Peter have planned that they would both go to UVA, and life would be grand, full of pastel colours and sunshine and wind through their hair. But something happens, and those plans are turned into painful dreams. Lara Jean’s faced with difficult decisions for the future.

Lara Jean doesn’t really ask for help when her normally strict composure unravels. She distances herself, tormenting herself with uncomfortable thoughts, and doesn’t talk it through with those who could provide advice. Instead she takes her stress out on baking and hyper-planning her dad’s wedding to their neighbour Trina. There are times when she doesn’t listen to what her sister, dad, and Trina have to say about cooling off (because they can at least tell something is wrong) and it’s frustrating to read, because we’ve all been there. I know I’ve been that stubborn teen who doesn’t know how to process stress or take advice without being a brat about it. Lara Jean can be immature and selfish, she makes mistakes, and she doesn’t think clearly. These are the kinds of characteristics that could bug you about a main character in a book, but with Lara Jean it feels just fine, because it’s so real, it’s endearing. I appreciated the way that Jenny made sure Lara Jean wouldn’t be the picture of perfection, and have her face some true tough choices.

Peter and Kitty are back in their wonderful characteristic forms, sweet and sassy respectively, and we get to see more of Margot, which is nice. We also see the introduction of Trina into the family, and how the Covey/Songs handle such a big change. This book carries along the awesome sisterly dynamic that Han’s readers enjoy so much. I was interested to see how things would develop with Peter, and how the relationship could be tested. Lara Jean has these moments where she sort of looks at Peter as if she’s in the future, and she assumes a lot about how he acts or will react, which if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know that can cause some problems! But overall, I had lots of swoons over their cute and loving interactions, and how sweet Peter was to Lara Jean. They’ve definitely come a long way since the first book!

Since it’s been a while since P.S. I Still Love You came out, I have had a hard time remembering most of the first two books. While I know I really liked them, only the big plot points stuck. So I felt a little fuzzy going into this book, even though there were lots of references of ‘remember when this happened?’ Which were probably there for exactly this reason. This didn’t hinder me at all but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I read it closer to the others, or had time to re-read them. This book was meant to be a conclusion, and it’s obvious. Sometimes it reads slow and other times, too rushed, as it feels like it’s being fast-forwarded through the school year to get to what has to happen. Lara Jean’s life isn’t as exciting as lots of other YA protagonists, but that’s okay. It’s quieter, so sometimes it feels like not much is happening. But then I remind myself that again, this is more realistic.

The Lara Jean Covey books also mean having more books with Asian girls, and with their representation on the cover, something Jenny was really conscious about. She was also conscious that so many books that have to do with a teen’s race have to do with their racial struggle, but she didn’t want to do that. It’s not that she’s not interested in speaking up about that stuff – she definitely does do that on her own – but I’m thinking it’s just as influential for teens to see representations of themselves having normal teenage experiences in love, family, and going to university. She mentioned on her book tour that the first book was the first YA contemporary book to have an Asian girl on the cover in North America (or at least I think that’s what she said, feel free to correct me).

While I’m sad we won’t get any more Lara Jean Covey books, I feel a warmth in how the series came full circle, and they have a special touch as this cute set all tied up in a pretty bow. Lara Jean has so intricately woven her way into so many readers’ hearts, and will continue to do so, so really, she’s not going anywhere.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

This entry was posted in Books.

Book Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue via Paper Trail Diary

Ramona Blue, by Julie Murphy, out now, via Balzer + Bray

Ramona Blue brought me so much joy. Not only is this story an important one about a girl figuring out her sexuality, but it’s also about friendship, family, race, class, and societal standards. Julie Murphy, author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, has yet again crafted a novel that will be a source of power and comfort to so many teens for many years to come. You can practically feel the sighs coming from all the adults reading Ramona Blue around the world wishing they had something like this when they were a teen.

Ramona lives in a tiny town in Mississippi in a trailer park with her sister Hattie and her dad. It’s been the three of them for a while; the parents divorced, and both daughters stayed with their father. Ramona is used to taking care of her overworked dad and her sweet but dependent sister. But now Hattie is pregnant, and since the baby daddy doesn’t seem like he will be in the picture forever, even though he’s moved into the crowded trailer, Ramona assumes that she will have to forgo college in order to help raise the child. She works hard at her two jobs delivering newspapers and working at a restaurant. One day, on her delivery route, as she throws a paper onto a yard, she hears someone call her name, which ended up forever changing her life: it was Agnes, an old neighbour from when they lived in Baton Rouge. Ramona finds out that Agnes’s grandson Freddie (of course her childhood best friend) still lives with her, and the two reconnect their friendship quickly.

The idea that I’m someone’s best friend fills my rib cage with summer.

Ramona is strong and has a good sense of herself – she is completely fine with being one of the two out lesbian teens in the town, and nobody seems to bother her about it. Over the summer, she fell for a vacationer named Grace who still had a boyfriend and wouldn’t come out of the closet. When Grace goes back home, Ramona is heartbroken, but not weak. Ramona finds solace in her friendship with Freddie as they spend more and more time together, and soon enough, Freddie is going through a breakup of his own. Eventually, Freddie reveals his feelings for Ramona, even though he knows she likes girls. Things get confusing for a while, as they would, but Ramona knows she feels something for Freddie, too, and it freaks her out at first because Freddie isn’t a girl. When they kiss, Ramona’s doubts float away, leaving her to enjoy her moment and just feeling good before the unnatural-for-her questioning of self begins.

My first thought isn’t that I’m gay or that Freddie is a boy or that he’s one of my best friends. His lips are lips. They’re soft and they taste like pumpkin pie and whiskey.

When I first heard of the plot for this book, I figured some people would get upset, because it’s a girl who likes girls, and yet now she likes a boy. (I was right, it did kind of blow up for a bit, but we’re not going to put any more attention on that.) I can see how it can come across as offensive if one was to briefly read the description and not think about it for a second. But this book is not offensive. Ramona’s story is very real. It’s totally acceptable to worry that a book would put out the idea of a girl not being gay ‘anymore,’ but also, bi-erasure is a thing, and bisexuality is something that the young adult community is trying very hard to put more attention on these days. This kind of situation has happened to many people. And in this case, just because Ramona gets with a guy after thinking she was a lesbian doesn’t mean she’ll never like girls again. And because she labeled herself as a lesbian in the past doesn’t mean she must forever call herself a lesbian. In fact, Julie has been vocal about how she identifies with Ramona as a bisexual person and that she put a lot of herself into Ramona. While Julie labels herself, Ramona does not, and I admire both of their decisions. It means the reader can’t label Ramona either, that Ramona is still figuring things out but knows it doesn’t have to happen right away, that acknowledges that you know what, she doesn’t need a label.

Life isn’t written in the stars. Fate is ours to pen. I choose guys. I choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose.

I did really like Ramona and Freddie together. They had a good jive, and yes, those make-out scenes were hot! But they also just understood each other, and Freddie never pressured Ramona to label herself or their relationship. I enjoyed reading their dynamic. I also must note that Ramona’s friends – the queer brother and sister duo Saul and Ruth – were great secondary characters, and though flawed, I liked reading of Ramona’s relationship with her sister. One thing that I thought was a bit odd was that it’s mentioned a couple times that Ramona and her family moved after Hurricane Katrina. I thought this would factor into the story more, but it barely did. I don’t think that’s wrong, but it kind of felt like ‘why mention it, then.’ There’s an opportunity to write about a family that escaped a terrible hurricane, but that went nowhere in the story, which is just as well, because the plot would probably feel crowded.

Here are three of my other favourite quotes from the book. Oh Julie, I love your dreamy style.

“I hate this idea that boys are thinking about sex nonstop and girls are thinking about – what? Stationery and garden gnomes? No.”

“Because just the feeling of being touched – being held – is the release of a pent-up sigh.”

“I feel like I’ve sprouted a magic seed, causing flowers to sprout up in my belly, and now they’re swelling against my rib cage.”

An advance review copy of the book was provided by HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review.

This entry was posted in Books.

The Paper Trail Diary turns three and celebrates with a giveaway!

the paper trail diary turns 3

Well it looks like I’ve kept this lil blog alive for three years now! Go me! So to celebrate the awesomeness that is blogging about books, snail mail, zines, and paper crafts, I’m going to do another blog birthday giveaway!

This giveaway includes:

*A copy of V.E. Schwab’s This Savage Song, just in time for its sequel Our Dark Duet‘s release
*A curated letter-writing set
*Two of my perzines
*A bag of scrap paper
*A notebook
*Small bunting that says ‘CRAFTERNOON’

To enter:

Must live in Canada or the US (sorry, rest of the world, shipping costs suck!)

Comment on this post about a great book you’ve read recently!

I’ll pick a winner at random on Wednesday, May 10!

~~~

It’s been a fun year – here are some of my favourite posts since the last blog birthday:

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

My England vacation in October – posts on sightseeing, paper stores, and all things Harry Potter

That time I was in Creativity magazine

Making bunting with the We R Memory Keepers bunting board

Stationery Talk: Thoughtful Types

Check out the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club

Book Review: Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

My top books of 2016

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

In the last year, I also finished the Georgia Nicolson Readalong and helped start the Book Lover Postcard Swap!

I also know that last year didn’t have a Notebook & Pen Swap, but don’t worry, that’s coming very soon… 😉

And a special thanks to all of you fellow paper nerds, bloggers, publishers, and letter writers who make this so much fun!

All the wonderfulness and craftiness in Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited

the upside of unrequited via paper trail diary

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, out now.

I blush and swoon and am essentially the heroine of a romance novel. Except with 100 percent less kissing.

Whenever I think about Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited, I just want to shmoosh my cheeks together and make a loud screeching noise. (Great mental image, eh?) This book means a whole lot to me – I don’t think I’ve ever identified with a character as much as Molly Peskin-Suso. I am struggling to organize all of my thoughts about the book into a cohesive blog post, dear reader, because they’re flying at my eyeballs one after the other and I want to write them all at once.

Let’s start with my experience reading the book. I was lucky to first read it last summer, when I was an intern at HarperCollins Canada. I read it in two days, and during that time with the book in my hands, I laughed, cried, smiled, frowned, made weird noises and used a lot of sticky notes to write down quotes later. The thought of waiting half a year for it to be in the world was unbearable, but in a way it ended up being nice, because it meant I could re-read it in a time that wasn’t tooooo close to the first read. The second time around, there were fewer noises and tears, but more sticky notes and an increasing swell of warmth in my heart.

Because chubby girls don’t get boyfriends, and they definitely don’t have sex. Not in movies — not really — unless it’s supposed to be a joke. And I don’t want to be a joke.

This book stands as a) the first book I’ve re-read in a long time, probably since mid-series Harry Potter and b) one of my absolute new favourite books ever. I’d be really surprised if it wasn’t my #1 by the end of 2017 – it definitely is right now.

I mean, here’s the thing I don’t get. How do people come to expect that their crushes will be reciprocated? Like, how does that get to be your default assumption?

The Upside of Unrequited is about a 17-year-old girl named Molly Peskin-Suso. She’s a bigger gal, but with a big heart to match. (Also nice thing to note about the book – Molly’s comfortable in her body, not once mentions losing weight, but it does affect her self esteem at times, which is normal.) She’s sensitive, crafty and hella confused about life. While she’s counted up to 26 crushes in her short lifetime, she’s never had a boyfriend, and that’s all she wants. But when her twin sister Cassie mentions that Molly has never put herself out there or been rejected to warrant feeling rejection, it gives her a push to open up a bit more, just in time for crush number 27. But with that comes vulnerability, something Molly is used to protecting. Plus Cassie has her first girlfriend, and Molly is missing their twin dynamic, which causes unfamiliar stress for Molly.

There’s so much of myself that I see in Molly. Besides the pudginess, long brown hair with bangs, dresses and leggings, Jewishness, craftiness, Pinterest love, openly on antidepressants-ness, and even the token skeptical facial expression, I see myself especially in the ways that she perceives herself and how she thinks people perceive her. Some of her thoughts are ones I swear I’ve thought before, too. When I was grade school, I had a lot of crushes. And in the few times I ever decided to act on them, they went terribly wrong. I remember feeling like I couldn’t ever admit who I liked, because it made me vulnerable to embarrassment – people could judge me for who I liked, or they’d tell others, even the guy, who would most definitely be grossed out that someone like me liked them (yes this happened). Admitting that I liked someone felt like admitting a weakness, which, in retrospect, is a huge bummer that I was conditioned to think like that. That even continued into adulthood. It does a number to a gal’s self esteem. But it happens, and we see this with Molly. Those closest to her know about her crushes, but one of her hugest struggles in the book is admitting that she likes someone – for some reason she can’t tell her sister and best friend, mostly because this time, this crush feels different, and this time, she thinks he likes her back, something else she’s freaked out to admit. I just want to hug her. When I read parts when she’s worried or upset, I feel them along with her. There are a few moments in particular that hit me so hard that they made me cry.

Even hearing the word “Netflix” has a way of centering me. Netflix means not having to suck in your stomach or think of anything smart or adorable to say. It means a whole night of not wondering what people think about you. No alcohol, and no flirtation, and no confusion, and every organ calm and settled.

I really loved the family dynamic in this book, too. While Cassie annoyed me because she was completely oblivious to her sister and her spiralling mental state, it was real. Cassie was so focused on her first real relationship, too, and it made her act selfishly and lash out at her family. And their moms are lovely and setting the story to be in Washington DC when gay marriage was made legal made it even cuter and lovelier for them to get married.

And then there’s Reid. Oh, Reid. Aka the guy Molly has fallen hard for. They work together in a hip gift shop and when Molly asks Reid what his favourite item in the store is, it’s a card. So, he was a done deal for me. (Also he’s super sweet, confident and swoony.)

“I love not doing work,” I assure him. And it’s true. Not doing much work is my favourite thing. And my other favourite things include: being around a lot of mason jars, rearranging table displays, and teasing geeky boys about their fondness for historical queens.

And that brings me to my next point of this post — as I mentioned above, Molly is super crafty, something I obviously also identify with. She does a bunch of specific crafts in the book, mostly for her moms’ wedding, which was so cute to visualize. So I wanted to share all the kinds of crafts she does in the book! Becky Albertalli was wonderful to share her book’s Pinterest board with me, which is a gold mine (omg the white sneakers), but here are the big crafty projects Molly worked on (this doesn’t spoil anything, don’t worry)!

Paper bead strings – though imagine them colourful like the rainbow and on a long garland

magazine beads

Cookie dough in jars

cookie dough jar

Painted mason jars and animal figurines – centre pieces for wedding tables

painted mason jars

painted animal

Fabric banner – I’m thinking of trying this soon, it looks adorable, and I have lots of fabric scraps!

fabric banner

Cake banner topper – I made one of these recently for a friend’s engagement party cake!

cake bunting

I am so glad The Upside of Unrequited exists, and that Becky was the one to write it. I admire the way she interacts with her fans (and she’s doing double duty these days with this and the Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda film!) and you can tell that she put a lot of herself and her readers into Molly. Plus, Becky is a damn fine writer. Thank you so much, Becky.

I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something sweet, adorable, and relatable. I know I saw a lot myself in Molly, and I know others do too, but I have a feeling that even if you don’t identify as much as I do, there’s something in here for you. I could go on and on about this book, but I think this has been enough!

Also, I must draw your attention to Simini Blocker’s illustrations of Molly and Reid because it makes my heart BURST.

Mini Book Reviews: You’re Welcome Universe, Life in a Fishbowl & Queens of Geek

life in a fishbowl, you're welcome universe, queens of geek

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been annoyingly behind on book reviews, and I’m so sorry! I’ve read a good number of good books so far this year, and I still want to share them with you! Especially as these ones seem to be flying under the radar a bit, and I need to tell you why you have to read them right now. These three YA books affected me in the best way: keeping me thinking about them much longer after reading them.

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

I feel like this book is saying to me “You’re Welcome for the Book Hangover, Jessica.” Julia is deaf, Indian-American, has two deaf moms, and yet none of those qualifiers to who she is equal to what the story is about, which I really admired. She is who she is, and her story isn’t about being an outsider in any of those ways – it’s about how she has a hard time making friends, has some anger issues, and has trouble expressing herself without being contained. When she covers up slang about her supposed best friend on the wall of their school, that friend snitches on her, leading her to get expelled. She transfers to a school where she’s the only deaf person – people definitely do not know how to act around her – which means she’s more eager than ever to claim space of her own through her art. But soon someone starts adding to her art – not tagging over it, but actually making it better – leaving Julia angry, confused and paranoid. Instead of freaking out and going dark for a while, she takes on the challenge to her art and identity.

Julia’s a strong character, and I really enjoyed reading her story. I liked reading about how people spoke to her and how she reacted to them. She often wanted people to adjust for her, rather than her adjust for them, which I thought was a fair thought, especially for a teenager. I also loved reading about her friendship that she slowly forms with another girl who she only calls Yoga Pants. This book has a lot of colour and character, and I will highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who read mostly YA and are looking for something fresh and vibrant.

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

This book is somethin’ else. It’s different from most YAs I’ve read – it’s dark and yet sickly funny. My only criticism is that it didn’t exactly read like YA in terms of the fact that the main character, a fifteen-year-old girl named Jackie Stone, is kind of the least interesting character in the whole book, and her story is often overshadowed. But anyways that is not enough to deter. I was fascinated by this story and would love to talk about it more!

Jackie’s father has just found out that he has a brain tumour. He freaks out because he doesn’t know how his family will provide for themselves once he’s inevitably gone, and does something really drastic. He puts his life up for sale online to the highest bidder. We learn about all the bidders and their creepy motivations for wanting to buy his life, like wanting to hunt a human, but the winner ends up being a ruthless TV executive, who turns the family home into a reality show, which really puts a blender to Jackie’s life. Not only do we get a peek into all these really ridiculous characters, but we also hear the story straight from the brain tumour. That’s right. He eats the father’s memories. YA often has multiple character POVs but I’ve never read anything that told a story from a brain tumour! This tragicomedy was a refreshing and disturbing read all at once, and it’s a great examination on the lengths people will go for what they want.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

This book is SO SWEET. I want to stroke it – which isn’t hard to imagine as the cover is gorgeous pink hair. It’s one big adorable story that you will forever look back fondly on. I read a review somewhere that said how the story was basically the best outcome for all the characters – nothing really terrible happens to them – and I was like … I have no problem with this. After all, it takes place over a weekend, and these characters totally deserve to get what they want.

Three friends from Australia fly all the way to California for SupaCon, a big fan convention that holds everything their dreams are made of. Charlie is a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie, hoping to get the chance to show everyone that she’s over her very public break-up with her co-star. But she’s sidetracked when she meets another vlogger named Alyssa Huntington, also her internet crush, and realizes that Alyssa likes her too. Taylor and Jamie are along for the ride with Charlie – but Taylor’s biggest motivation is that the author of her favourite fandom will be at the Con, and with her super heavy collection of books toted from across the world, Taylor’s convinced that if she can meet her idol, she can be cured of her shell. She’s autistic and anxious, and really, really in love with her best guy friend Jamie. Taylor and Jamie have basically been that couple that everyone knows loves each other but never does anything about it, so their romantic tension is ridiculously cute. By the end of the book, I wanted to pick up Charlie, Alyssa, Taylor, and Jamie into one giant hug and tell them all how much I was rooting for them. If you’re into geek culture, LGBTQ stories, and super endearing characters, you will love this book.

Thank you to Raincoast Books, who provided review copies of Life in a Fishbowl and Queens of Geek in exchange for honest reviews.

What have you been reading lately?

This entry was posted in Books.

Happy National Letter Writing Month! Check out this awesome new line from Kikki-k

letters are better kikki-k via paper trail diary

Every year, veteran and newbie snail mailers alike celebrate National Letter Writing Month during April. There are fun challenges – most notably Write_On, which also serves to generate awareness of the joys of writing letters – which usually revolve around writing 30 letters in 30 days. Do you think you could do it? I would find it hard to commit to that right now, but this year I’m going to at least try to focus more on mail during April. I’ve been saving up a stack of mail to reply to so it’s time to get going! I will feature more mail posts this April as well!

Today I want to show you some of the goodies from Kikki-k’s new Letters Are Better collection, because ohmygosh. I struck a bit of luck (and extremely lovely friendship) when this collection came out and my super friend Michele was in London — she is the best and brought me home my favourite items from the collection! Check out how lovely these are! I’m really excited to use them this month, and I can imagine anybody would be so stoked to get these through their mailbox!

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Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

under rose-tainted skies via paper trail diary

Perfection is a feeling; you’ll know it if you’ve ever questioned the competency of your penmanship before writing on the first page of a new notebook.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, via Clarion Books, out now.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is one of my favourite books of 2017 so far. When I first heard of it, I was hesitant, because it sounded a lot like Everything, Everything and Finding Audrey, but I’m glad I was proven wrong. While the main characters of all three books are girls who are stuck in their homes for some illness reason, only this one explains mental illness so beautifully.

Norah’s body won’t let her outside the house. When she has a therapy appointment, her mother has to drag her down the driveway to the car because she’ll collapse. Between anxiety, OCD, and agoraphobia, Norah’s hit a thousand times, every day, pretty hard. You’d be exhausted too. But she takes it, she’s grown used to it.

They, the geeks that deal in brain stuff, they’re the one who christened what I have an invisible illness, but I often wonder if they’re really looking. Beyond the science stuff. It doesn’t bleed or swell, itch or crack, but I see it, right there on my face. It’s like decay, this icky green color, as if my life were being filmed through a gray filter. I lack light, am an entire surface area that the sun can’t touch.

She knows how to handle herself, as much as she misses having a life and being outside of her house. She’s been getting by just fine until she notices that the boy who just moved in next door, Luke, has noticed her through the window. But things get a lot worse when Norah’s mom was in a car accident and has to stay at the hospital, leaving Norah all alone without any help. When groceries are delivered to the house but left on the porch, Norah tries to reach them with a broom from the front door, but thankfully, Luke comes to the rescue. From there, Norah learns how to let Luke in, and Luke learns what it’s like for Norah. Of course, it’s pretty hard to date when one person can’t leave their house without passing out. But their relationship blossoms nonetheless. And it’s friggin adorable.

What I loved most about this book is Louise’s writing, how she describes what Norah goes through. I felt like I was riding along Norah’s thought processes, feeling what it would feel like to have OCD and anxiety like hers. I was fascinated, and I’d recommend this as a way for people to learn how to understand those disorders.

Here are some of my favourite gorgeous quotes:

“I miss the days when I could have a panic attack in peace.”

“I’m more thought than flesh; a thousand questions flop down with me and make the room shake like an earthquake is running right through it.”

“See, anxiety doesn’t just stop. You can have nice moments, minutes where it shrinks, but it doesn’t leave. It lurks in the background like a shadow, like that important assignment you have to do but keep putting off or the dull ache that follows a three-day migraine. The best you can hope for is to contain it, make it as small as possible so it stops being intrusive. Am I coping? Yes, but it’s taking a monumental amount of effort to keep the dynamite inside my stomach from exploding.”

“Whether I like to admit it or not, anxiety has become my best friend. It’s a crutch that helps me hobble through life. It’s the brassy bitch at school that I don’t like, but being her BFF makes me popular. Or the school bully that I don’t really want to be around, but being his friend means I don’t want to get beat up. I don’t know how to be safe without it. We’re buddies. It’s like they say: keep your friends close, your enemies closer.”

It’s not included in the final copy, but in the ARC, there was a note from Louise explaining her background to the story. She wrote about how it stemmed from her own issues with anxiety, and how Norah emerged from her notes of what was going on in her head. She also wrote how she believes passionately in talking about mental health, which is obviously something I really admire.

But while Norah was so strong, there were a few things in the story that could have used more fleshing out, like why Norah’s mom had to be mysteriously in the hospital for so long besides being an excuse for Norah and Luke to become closer, and maybe a bit more about Norah’s past. I also have an issue with the ending, but I can see why it went the way it did. Overall, I feel so warm and loving towards this book and Norah and I hope more people pick it up. I’m definitely interested in reading more from Louise.

[I received this book from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review; this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]

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Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the hate u give, via paper trail diary

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, via Balzer + Bray, out now.

You’ve probably seen this book everywhere on the internet in the last few weeks, maybe even months. Good. It’s an incredibly important book. I wouldn’t say it’s the first YA book on Black Lives Matter (just because I don’t have anything to back that up, but I haven’t seen anything else) but it definitely is the first to make such a big impact. And a good thing is there are more books like this coming in the next few years, at least, such as Nic Stone’s Dear Martin. The Hate U Give was in such high demand that the publisher pushed its pub date up by half a year, also having it come out on the last day of Black History Month, and five years since Trayvon Martin’s death, marking the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. I think that was a good idea, because the hunger for this book was REAL, and the book itself honours these important moments in history. And now we get to wait for the movie!

I loved The Hate U Give. I gave it 5 stars. I have a good feeling it’ll end up on my end-of-year list. There’s so much about this book that gives it strength. There’s the fact that it’s a YA book about Black Lives Matter, obviously. The main character, a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr, is so loveable and her family dynamics are heartwarming. You’ll be missing them once you’re done reading. I finished the book a month or two ago and I still miss them. And Angie Thomas definitely shines as a debut writer who’s going to have a huge following awaiting for her next book! She wrote with such emotion, pure love, and power.

Here’s a quick plot gist: Starr is on her way home from a party with an old friend, Kamil, when they get pulled over by a cop, who says their tail light is broken. When he doesn’t like the way Kamil answers him, who really is just asking for the cop to give him his ticket, he makes Kamil stand outside the car, and not to move. When the cop turns his back, Kamil shifts to check on Starr, and that’s when he’s shot. He dies, looking at Starr, stunned. Starr is then jolted into a part of life she wants no part of. Her parents shield her from the press and the public from finding out that she was the witness for as long as they can. Starr’s in more danger than she would have thought. But eventually, someone needs to speak up, someone needs to be there for Kamil, someone needs to acknowledge what happened. Starr has to find her voice, her place in the world, and closure over such a horrible death … it’s a lot for a teenage girl.

I feel like I don’t need to say much else to convince you to read one of the biggest YA books of 2017. It may look big, but you’ll speed through it. You may cry when Starr’s friend Kamil is shot. You will feel Starr’s anger as she is left to cope with the uprising, riots, and ignorance that follows. You will feel her confusion as she is fast-forwarded into the real world. You will feel protective over her and her family, just as they do. And still, you’ll be able to laugh, because Starr has her way of making things brighter.

[I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review; this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]

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