Join the Book Lover Postcard Swap – 2017 holiday edition!

book lover postcard swap holiday 2017

The Book Lover Postcard Swap is back again for our holiday round – this time the challenge is to send your partner a bookish postcard about what book(s) are on your wish list!

See the instructions on the form below. Looking forward to this!

And make sure if you’re posting about it to use #bookloverpostcardswap! This time we’re stepping it up with a giveaway – by the end of the month we’ll choose a winner out of every public post with the hashtag to receive a package of holiday stationery ūüėČ

Etsy updates!

I opened up a Paper Trail Diary Etsy shop a while ago, but didn’t put that much work into it. Now I’ve refreshed it for a 2.0 soft launch, and I want to show you what I’ve got!

So far, I have some zines and scrap paper packs available. Eventually I will add bunting, word banners, letter sets, and more. I’m open to suggestions of what you’d like to see there, too.

There are my 100g scrap paper packs:

paper trail diary scrap paper packsMost of the paper is scrapbook paper, and packages are chosen at random to mail.

My two issues of the Chain Letter Short Story Project zine:

paper trail diary chain letter short story project zine 1paper trail diary chain letter short story project zine 2The Chain Letter Short Story Project is something I started a few years ago, in which I start writing a short story, and send it to volunteers around the globe like a chain letter to keep adding on to the story, and then I finish it. I wanted to share the fun way the stories develop and so I also got the contributors to do illustrations, and put them together as zines! These both took about a year to go around the world each. I plan on starting #3 in the new year!

My Pillars of The Paper Trail Diary mini-zine collection (one on each of my blog’s four subjects!):

pillars of the paper trail diary zinesThese were sooo fun to make. They’re just my reasonings as to why each category is the bestest.

And the latest, my This is What It’s Like to be a Huge Stationery Nerd zine!:

paper trail diary stationery nerd zine

This was also super fun to do, and I did it in a night, which is unheard of for me! I think most of my readers will understand the pain I shared in these pages :p I named it the first in a Paper Trail Diary series so it’s something I’d like to keep going with, though I’m not sure with what yet! Each zine will likely be a different kind of topic. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see in a Paper Trail Diary zine!

These are all up on the shop to purchase now! ūüėČ

Stationery Spotlight: the Well Inked subscription box

well inked box via paper trail diary

As we know, I’m a huge fan of notebooks and pens. So I was delighted to find out that one of the participants in my recent Notebook & Pen Swap was one of the organizers of the Well Inked Box — a Canadian-run subscription box for just those things! They run quarterly, and include a notebook and 3-5 other items like pens, pencils, highlighters, etc.

Here’s what their website has to say:

We are a quarterly subscription box which features creative supplies delivered to your door. Our goal is to encourage creators in various disciplines to step out of the digital realm, put pen to paper, and develop their creative vision. We want to provide you with the basics like you‚Äôve never seen them before; notebooks, pens, pencils and more that will leave you asking why didn‚Äôt I know this was out there?‚ÄĚ

Whether you’re a designer, an artist, a writer, or someone who simply likes to experiment, our goal is to curate a box that will allow you to try your hand at a variety of creative practices and encourage you to use supplies in new ways.

I was lucky to receive a box and you can too! Check out what I got, and then enter our contest to win one yourself.

well inked box via paper trail diary well inked box via paper trail diary

I was excited to see what I got — I thought the mini list notebooks were handy, and it was nice getting three because I could give one to my partner. And I like using the Uniball pen – I haven’t found a Uniball pen I’ve liked maybe ever! Since I have Muji here in Toronto, getting¬†one of their pens wasn’t as thrilling as if I lived somewhere that didn’t have a Muji. But guys, Muji pens are the best. I also do love a good Tombow brush pen. I rarely use highlighters, but it is good to know of ones that last longer than most. I think this box would do well for those who live in areas that don’t have a lot of paper supplies around, or for the kind of people who are more spontaneous with what they use. I spend too much time in supply stores ūüėČ I appreciated the note they included in the box that gave some more context and ideas for each items, too!

Want to win this box? Comment below about what you like to use notebooks and pens for, and I will pick a winner at random on Wednesday, November 1.

Reading Round-Up: What I’ve read in the last few months

It’s a known¬†catch among book bloggers: we read faster than we review. Recently I’ve found my books waiting¬†to be reviewed in a giant pile, and rather than bog down the blog with big reviews for all of them, and stress about it, I decided I wanted to just come here and share them with you and share my thoughts. That’s what we’re here for anyway. So here are a whole bunch of books I’ve read in the last couple months!

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Join the Halloween Book Lover Postcard Swap!

book lover postcard swap halloween

Can you believe Barb and I have been running the Book Lover Postcard Swap for a year now?! Me neither! We’ve had so much fun with this project, and love seeing how people get into it.

This time around, we’re focusing on spoooooky reads, in time for the Halloween ~moods~. You’ll write on a bookish/Halloweenish postcard about a book that’s given you chills, witchy vibes, and/or nightmares. Muahaha.

To sign up, check out the form below. You must sign up by Saturday, October 7th!

Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

moxie the paper trail diary

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, via Roaring Brook Press, out now.

It’s been fascinating watching what kinds of YA books are coming out now in tandem to the world’s current political climate. I think this is where we can see change in lit, starting with young people who are fired up or need something to fire them up. We’ve seen this with Angie Thomas’¬†The Hate U Give most specifically this year. And when we get onto talking about history repeating itself, it’s good to talk about the positive¬†things that are bubbling up, too, like how we can show people how tools like zines and music and power in numbers can pack a punch.

I am the last person to say that ‘zines are dead,’ but I do think that they mostly exist within certain subcultures and that they ebb and flow through decades. The riot grrrls of the ’90s are now moms, people! I hadn’t thought much about how they’re being made by teens these days, or if they could fit into YA books, until it happened (so I’m glad someone else was thinking about it). When I heard about Jennifer Mathieu’s book¬†Moxie, I practically fell out of my seat. This was the book I didn’t know I’d been so desperately waiting for.

I’m so happy¬†Moxie¬†is now out in the world, because this book means SO MUCH to me.

Moxie is the story of Vivan Carter, whose mom was once a riot grrrl, but any evidence now sleeps in a box in the closet while her mom works extra shifts as a nurse. Vivan’s a ‘nice girl’¬†and keeps to herself but fantasizes about her mom’s riotous past. Viv¬†expects to live a normal, boring life, but when she¬†sees a series of awful sexist things happen at school, something inside her explodes. She gets royally pissed off and knows exactly what to do: start a zine that calls out the problems and secretly leave it around the school. It’s in her blood. She¬†wants to be kept secret from the zines – she doesn’t want or need the attention, and she wants girls to pick them up on their own accord. Nobody expects it’s her. She includes calls to action to see if anyone will join her – like in the first zine, she asks people to come to school the next day with hearts and stars drawn on their hands. While students are hesitant at first to be marked as rebels, soon others start to take¬†Moxie into their own directions, and suddenly, Viv’s started a feminist revolution¬†at her conservative Texas high school. BAM. Moxie girls fight¬†back!

If you liked¬†13 Reasons Why but wanted to see more of a resistance or girls fighting back at their abusers and the system – this is what you’ll be looking for.

So, the zines. They’re in the book! Jen¬†has made zines before, so she didn’t come as a newbie to this concept (thankfully), and she made the Moxie zines that are within the pages. It does a huge service to the story, and shows how simple it is to make a zine. Also, as someone who makes zines, I got a huge kick out of any time someone referred to Moxie as ‘that newsletter’ and Viv thinks ‘it’s a zine, but whatever.’ Classic. I really hope this inspires teens and adults to take up making zines as a way to get their thoughts, opinions, and feelings out there – it’s incredibly cathartic and can be quite effective, as we see here. I also just love that readers¬†will be¬†learning about zines and how they’re used.

I also love how much learning about feminism is in the story. Viv and her friends didn’t exactly identify as feminists before, but you see how they learn about it, grow with it, and then work with it. Viv’s love interest also gets a good reality check as a guy who wants to be an ally but doesn’t realize that some of his actions are sexist. (And the love interest is not the main part of the book, which I appreciate.) I know we all have our points on modern feminism, and there are parts that could’ve used more inclusion, but I see this book as a great starter¬†for teens who don’t quite understand it yet. Hopefully they can see how it’s written out that certain actions and comments from men can be really hurtful. And thus I really hope young men read this and learn from it, too.

In a moment celebrating with friends, Viv says: “it occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favourite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.”

Moxie is about finding your voice and making people listen. Moxie is about using anger in a constructive way. Moxie is about friendship and looking out for each other. Moxie calls for change. Moxie is coming out at the perfect time.

It’s funny, I’ve been mulling this post over for days, and I feel like there should be so much more to say because I burst at the seams any time someone asks or brings it up. But I don’t want to overwhelm you! I just really wish the best for this book, and am so happy it exists. I was thrilled¬†the whole time I was reading it. This is going to be either my #1 or #2 of 2017 for sure. But if you see a copy of the latest¬†Broken Pencil magazine out in the world, you’ll find more about¬†Moxie in it from me!

I so loved spending time with Viv and her friends, and you will too. It’s fun, inspiring, and the right amount of ragey. I drew a lot of hearts and underlines and wrote a lot of ‘omgs’ and ‘you sucks’ throughout my copy (that last one aimed at the awful bros). I think this is a good book to make your mark in. Amy Poehler’s already optioned it for a movie, so that means hopefully more Moxie in the future.

Now looksee, I got an interview with the author!

What inspired you to write a book about zines?
I first learned about zines when I read a book called Zine by the writer Pagan Kennedy; the book was a collection of Pagan’s zines called Pagan’s Head. A friend of mine gave me the collection in college and I loved it so much. I love the intimacy a zine provides, especially in this digital age. I love paper. I’m a big believer in writing about your obsessions and interests and translating that love into fiction, so when I started thinking of what I wanted to write next, I made a list of interests and zines were on there, along with feminism and Riot Grrrl. The idea for MOXIE came to me very suddenly and I was in love with it instantly!

Did you make zines when you were younger? Did you listen to riot grrrl? If yes, please explain what you made/listened to!
I actually did make a zine! It was called Jennifer (boring title!) and I started it during winter break of my senior year of college. I was partly inspired by Pagan Kennedy, partly interested in finding a way to express my confusion over impending adulthood. I can’t remember how many issues I made, but I think there were about 13 or 14 over the course of several years, like from age 21 until 26 or 27. I did listen to Riot Grrrl. In college a friend sent me a mix tape of Bikini Kill songs. A bit later I bought Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out album. I had an instant connection with that music. It spoke to me on such a deep level. I loved it.

How did this get in the hands of Amy Poehler’s company? What can you tell me about what stage this is in? Do you have a casting wish list?
I’m fortunate enough to have a brilliant agent named Kerry Sparks who got the manuscript into the hands of the equally amazing Dana Spector, a book to film agent. Dana read the manuscript and immediately thought it would be of interest to certain folks, including Amy Poehler. She sent the manuscript out over the Thanksgiving weekend and by Christmas we had a deal. It all happened very quickly. Speaking with Amy on the phone during the negotiation process was a dream come true. She was so genuine, funny, and smart. She got what I was trying to do with the book; I cried when I got off the phone because she is such a hero of mine! For right now it’s really in development. Her company has a set amount of time to try and write a script, find funding, etc. I don’t really have a casting wish list, and ultimately, it will be Amy’s call how all that develops. But I trust her so much I’m not worried one bit!

What kind of research did you do for the book?
I love doing research and normally do quite a bit for my books, but for this one – not much! All of it came from my own background, experiences, interests, etc. So no research this time – besides getting very nostalgic and replaying old favorite songs and rewatching interviews with Riot Grrrls like Katheen Hanna.

Did you listen to riot grrrl while writing?
Oh, totally! I don’t always listen to music when I write, but for this book, yes. I listened to a lot of Bikini Kill, Team Dresch, Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, and other bands. I found this new Riot Grrrl-inspired band out of San Antonio called Fea that I also became obsessed with. They are a Chicana punk band and cool as hell.

Did you make the zines that are featured throughout the book? (Fantastic idea, btw.)
Yes, I did! I’m so glad you liked the idea. I had so much fun doing that. I keep thinking about how my old friends from my college days and my twenties are going to laugh so hard when they see them because they have the same vibe and feel as my zine from way back when, including the type of clip art I used.

What do you want teens to take from this story? Why is it so important to be told now?
I want teenagers, especially young women, to walk away from reading MOXIE knowing that living your life as a feminist is a joyful, wonderful way to live. Women’s liberation is about fighting for gender equality and freeing women and girls up from the toxic hold of a culture that expects them to follow a very prescriptive role that isn’t healthy or rewarding, but women’s liberation is also full of joy! As a feminist, I have created amazing bonds with female friends that aren’t about competition for men, for example; they’re just supporting each other. Being a feminist has had a positive impact on my life as a wife and mother, too. Because I’m a feminist, I married a man who supports my dreams and goals just as I support his, and he sees his role in raising our son as just as important as mine. Because I’m a feminist, I can raise my son to understand being a man isn’t about suppressing feelings or domination but about being a person who stands up for justice and for the right thing.¬† Choosing to live your life as a feminist means living a better life.

Buy on Indigo | Buy on Amazon | Buy on Barnes & Noble | Buy on Book Depository | Reserve at the Toronto Public Library | Add to Goodreads | Follow the Moxie blog

A look back on the 2017 Notebook & Pen Swap

A few¬†months ago, I started the 2017 round of¬†The Notebook & Pen Swap – which is quite literal in its name – and I think now we’re in pretty good shape to be able to show off our wares!

Over 80 people all over the globe signed up to be matched with someone to send each other a notebook and pen. With a little form filling out of preferences, they were good to go. I then matched everyone and sat back to enjoy seeing what they would make of it! It was so fun to scroll through the hashtags #notebookpenswap and #notebookandpenswap (yes I forgot my own hashtag and told people to use the wrong one) to see the gorgeous wrapping jobs and how above and beyond people go for their partners.

Check after the jump to see all the pretty photos of swaps!

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My TBR for Fall 2017

paper trail diary's fall 2017 reads

It’s finally September, which means I am¬†this close to soft blankets, a big mug of tea, and socks! I put on socks the other day for the first time in months and it felt so weird. It’s been a scorcher in Toronto this summer, which is not my jam, so I am really looking forward to my cozy time right about now. Fall also means a slew of exciting new books to cuddle (or have my cat sit on them). I’ve been to a number of fall preview events in the last couple weeks, and perusing Goodreads and such, so I’d like to share what I’m looking forward to this fall so you can add them too! Then we can message each other from our couches about how much we love the books, k?

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Reading round-up: Strong female characters

paper trail diary book reviews

I’ve got another round-up of a pile of books I’ve read recently! Here we have The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed, Spinning by Tillie Walden, Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga, This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis, and Top Ten by Katie Cotugno, which all feature young female protagonists. That’s kinda my genre, if you haven’t noticed!

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

I fell for Mindy McGinnis’ contemporary writing with last year’s The Female of the Species, so I was super excited to get my hands on her next dark story. Sasha Stone is an over-achiever, the straight-laced it girl at her school. But when the resident bad boy starts acting like he’s been dating her for a while, Sasha senses something’s off. Around the same time, she discovers a secret her family has kept from her: she had an identical twin that she absorbed in the womb. Things click and Sasha realizes she’s being taken over by her scorned sister, and things get super disturbing from there. I was not disappointed with the story – I was hooked by Mindy’s storytelling and Sasha’s detached yet earnest voice. I can’t say much else without giving it away, but I can say you might raise your eyebrows at the ‘she absorbed her twin in the womb and now that twin is getting revenge’ thing, but just go with it. If you’re looking for a good YA psychological thriller this fall, check this one out.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

This one took me longer than usual to get through, purely because I was reading it around the time the Harvey Weinstein allegations came out. It was so real, I needed to take it at a slower pace lest I really bum myself out. If you love Moxie, you’ll love The Nowhere Girls — it’s about a group of girls that decide to take justice into their own hands for a girl who was gang-raped and bullied out of town for speaking up about it. They call themselves the Nowhere Girls and anonymously invite girls from school to form this feminist task force to show the school administration and the boys that they can’t put up with the abuse they’ve all had anymore. Amy does a good job at showing us many of the girls throughout the school besides our three protagonists (I loved them all by the way – one overweight girl goes from being put down to gaining her strength, one Hispanic lesbian punk fights with her family for freedom, and one girl with Asperger’s faces her darkest moments and learns how to be vulnerable to caring again) – I found it jarring to read at first but once I figured it out, I fell into it. I wanted to be in the Nowhere Girls, I wanted to fight stupid boys next to them. I wanted to punch their school principal in the face. She also does a good job in showing how people can learn how to be feminist and how they’ve been conditioned to be otherwise. This is a fantastic, necessary read, though tough, so take that as you will. I’m so glad this book came out.

Spinning by Tillie Walden

I haven’t really read a graphic novel in a while, so I was excited to check this out, especially because it’s categorized as YA. It’s a graphic memoir, actually — Tillie crafted Spinning to show how her coming-of-age story spins between being a hardcore figure skater, coming out as gay, and finding a new love in making art. I liked the book, and really like her artwork, especially the more single panel detailed pages. I found the story to be a bit jumbled, but when it comes to a real story, it’s rare that someone’s life pans out in a smooth way. There wasn’t as much in there about becoming an artist as I’d hoped, and I was left with wonder and concern when she touches on some serious abuse stuff but doesn’t go into it. But overall, I like what the book represents, and how it can pave the way for similar books in the genre in the future.

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

As I’ve mentioned before, this was my first Katie Cotugno read and I felt pretty meh about it. I know people who are hardcore fans of hers, though none of her stories have ever appealed to me. I liked the concept of this one – a guy and a girl go through ten big moments of their high school years together, and the big question of can they just be friends or will they fall into something more? And I gotta say I was disappointed with how it played out. The memories are all out of order in the book, so it got kind of confusing, and felt pretty unnecessary to the story. There were times that I’d have to go back and re-read parts to make sure I was remembering things right. I also found the characters pretty annoying, mostly the girl (Gabby) – she was kiiind of a jerk. I am all for real characters in fiction, but she got on my nerves. I was here for the portrayal of her bisexuality, but I was put off by the portrayal of her anxiety, though there’s not much I can say to that as I have my own anxiety and the author has hers, everyone is different. But Gabby was that person who uses her anxiety to make excuses. And Ryan is just stubborn and lost. Honestly, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve read this one and I don’t remember much besides these points, but hey, I tried! I feel like if you’re already a KC fan, you’ll probably like this one, but it doesn’t fit into my preferences.

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

I remember liking My Heart and other Black Holes when it came out, so I was interested in checking out Jasmine Warga’s next book about a girl who finds out her father is a famous rock star. One day Taliah’s father shows up on her doorstep to say hey and oh yeah your grandpa’s dying, so you should come meet him before he passes away. She goes and has a father-daughter bonding experience. I liked the concept, but it fell flat for me and I don’t think I can really explain why.. I think I expected more from it and didn’t get enough or something. I’m also pretty over reading books about people who write music, because it’s always so painful to read, haha. I can see people liking the book, but it didn’t end up being one for me.

What have you guys been reading lately?

This entry was posted in Books.

A Toronto Favourite: Curiosa

curiosa in toronto - via the paper trail diaryIt’s Curi-oh-sa, not Curio-sah!

Get ready, friends. The store of our dreams has suddenly materialized in Toronto and it is epic.

What: Curiosa, “Purveyors of Extraordinary Things”
Where: 1273 Queen Street West (Parkdale)
Hours: It literally just opened, so TBD!
On the web: Facebook page / Instagram page / Website

It’s hard to write about this store without basically typing ‘asldkfja;lkdsfjasldkjf’ forever.

I was lucky enough to catch the opening party for this magical new spot and man, you guys are going to LOVE. IT. I exploded as soon as I set foot in there.

Owned by the lovely and genius Sauer family behind The Paper Place, Curiosa is a gift/stationery shop that firstly specializes in all things Harry Potter, but if you are a fan of Fantastic Beasts, Edward Gorey, classic literature, vintage games and toys, apothecary soaps/candles, tarot cards/magic, letter-writing, and basically all things cool, you will find at least five things in this store that you can’t leave without. It’s basically somewhere that you can both gush over your love of Harry Potter but also live like you are going to Hogwarts, with your fancy notebooks, quills, wax seals, and decor. But besides having all the cool things, the Sauers have really put¬†so much detail into the entire place. There are even magical cauldrons. Here, see it all for yourself.

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