How to make all the bunting your heart desires

I’ve been lovin’ on my We R Memory Keepers Banner Punch Board a lot lately – making bunting for a bridal shower and gifts for people and talking party decorations with people at work – and I realized, I haven’t actually really shown you guys the board yet! I showed you why the Envelope Punch Board was handy and how cute the Alphabet Punch Board is, and yet, why didn’t I show my favourite? I honestly don’t know. So here we are, and this board will change your life if you love to make bunting.

Let me walk you down memory lane. Before this board came into my life, whenever I wanted to make bunting, I had to confusingly try to draw a legit triangle (why is it so harrdddd) on cardboard, cut it out, trace that on paper, and then use scissors to cut. It was not a fun process, really, and my triangles always looked so wonky. Embarrassing! When We R Memory Keepers launched this a year or so ago, I was thrilled. And I can say it has made making bunting 1000x times easier and faster. Bunting for everyone, I say!

Using this board, you can make three different kinds of bunting – flag, crest and pennant. I pretty much only ever do flags, but I will show you how to do crest and pennant, too!

So here we have the handy board. Look at all those measurements! It might look confusing but it really really isn’t. First we’ll look at flags.

banner punch board via paper trail diarybanner punch board via paper trail diary
I really like making mini-bunting – it just looks so cute as decor! When you pick your size of flag you want, you line up the edge of your paper like so. Try and line it up as close as possible to the corner on the left side – because once you keep going along your paper, if you’re lucky, you can then just cut a line across and get extra flags out of your zig zag pattern you made.
banner punch board via paper trail diary
You take the little exacto knife and run it along the two sides, instantly cutting the triangle out. One side seems to have a bit of a catch to it so make sure to press firmly. Also as you can see from a lot of use, my blade isn’t the sharpest anymore. I believe they sell replacements but I have yet to find any.
banner punch board via paper trail diary
Now at the top is where you can make the crest and pennant banners.
banner punch board via paper trail diary
It’s a bit more difficult, because unlike the flag where you can pretty much cut triangles out of any size of paper, for these you need to cut your strips of paper first in order to be more exact. So you can choose your size – these first two lines are 1 inch.
banner punch board via paper trail diary
You then lay the top frame back down – it has magnets which helps to keep your paper stable, but you still need to be firm – and can run the knife along the edges. If you do it on the top, you get crest, and on the bottom you get pennant.
banner punch board via paper trail diary
This is why you need to cut your strips before hand, it’s kinda wonky :p
banner punch board via paper trail diary
So here’s a bigger size of flag!
banner punch board via paper trail diary
In order to string your punting, you need to punch holes, so hey look, there’s a hole punch at the top! You line up your triangle’s top edge, and punch, then flip it over and punch the other side.
banner punch board via paper trail diary

And then, ta da! It really goes so quickly once you know what size and shape you want. You can get a lot out of a sheet of paper if you want to, too!

Here’s some bunting I made for my friend’s bridal shower last week 🙂

banner punch board via paper trail diary

Watch this video for more on how easy it is to use this board!

This entry was posted in Crafts.

Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

homegoing via paper trail diary

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, via Bond Street Books, out now.

[I received this book from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review; this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]

Reading Homegoing is a substantial experience – you can feel the weight of generations of two different families as they live through slavery and segregation in Africa and the US. You will not emerge from this book a ray of sunshine. You will emerge having felt a lot of feelings and thought a lot of thoughts. It is especially a significant read for the kind of world we are living in these days.

Each chapter is a different family member between the late 1700s until about the 1980s or 90s. That is a lot of ground to cover. 14 characters, in fact. We start with Effia and then Esi in Africa. The two are sisters but they will never know that or each other. Effia grows up as the most beautiful girl in Fanteland, she is promised to the soon-to-be leader, but her stepmother Baaba devises a plan to protect her, but Effia doesn’t know why. Effia ends up being taken to the Cape Coast Castle by a rich white soldier to be his secret black wife, which is what Baaba wanted, to keep Effia safe from harm between warring villages. Meanwhile Esi, who grew up in neighbouring Asanteland, one of those villages, is taken hostage as a slave to live in filth and dismay in the dungeon below Cape Coast Castle. The sisters would never cross paths. Esi is raped by a soldier.

Hell was a place of remembering, each beautiful moment passed through the mind’s eye until it fell to the ground like a rotten mango, perfectly useless, uselessly perfect.

Those are the stories that start this harrowing journey. Along it goes from Effia’s son Quey to Esi’s daughter Ness, and it goes and it goes and it goes. Each character’s story feels like a short story that has fingers in others. Sometimes I felt sad that I couldn’t stick with some characters for longer, but they lived on in other ways. As each family member gets their turn, your heart will feel heavier and heavier. It feels unfair that we can now breeze through a story like this but for them it was literally centuries, centuries that are still going. It is fascinating to read through such a history to see how it very slowly gets a bit better, but I cannot stress enough how much time it takes for them. Gyasi’s writing is beautiful and deserving of its great critical acclaim – I forsee Homegoing collecting accolades over the next year. When things are so terrible in the world, especially for black lives, Homegoing serves as an important reminder, path to empathy and educational resource (though technically fictional). It’s something I’d love to see on high school or university English curriculum. It has the power to start and continue conversations. Each character is so special and crucial to the story – you will be captivated by every one. This book truly shows you why black lives matter.

I am running a contest to win a copy of Homegoing, courtesy of Chapters Indigo! Head on over to my Instagram page to find out how to enter. (Canada only.)

This entry was posted in Books.

Book Review: Sing by Vivi Greene

sing by vivi greene via paper trail diary

Sing by Vivi Greene, via HarperTeen, out now.

[I received this book from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review; this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever. Disclaimer: I am now an intern there (weee!), but received this book before I started!]

Lily Ross is the world’s biggest pop star who wears her heart on her sleeve, and she’s going through yet another breakup in front of everyone. Sound familiar? It should, because this book is basically a fictionalized Taylor Swift story, which I totally gobbled right up.

In the summer months before she’s supposed to start her massive next tour, Lily needs to unplug from life and remember what she’s made of – so her and her friends Sammy and Tess go live in a cottage in Maine to chill out for a while. But of course, while Lily is trying to relax and write new songs – who would want to go sing their love songs for their ex for the next year? – she meets a cute townie named Noel, who challenges her in more ways than one.

Lily has to figure out if Noel is the spark behind her new flush of creativity or if he’s taboo. She has to distance herself from her ex Jed (also a rock star). She wants her new songs to not be about a guy for once.

I grab my journal from the nightstand, my guitar from its case on the floor, and cozy up in a corner of the bed, wedging the pillows behind me.

There’s so much I want to say. I could write a dozen songs in the next three hours about all the ways Jed has hurt me. But they would still be about him. Every time I write a song it feels like I’m giving little bits of myself away. And I don’t want to give Jed – or any of the guys I’ve dated – another piece of me.

Lily’s a pretty solid girl – she cares about people, she’s mature, she’s aware of her surroundings. She likes the business of her work and knows she does it well. She understands that almost everyone around her is there for her but tries to find the modest parts of it. And for the most part, she’s quite driven (when she’s not wanting to shut the world off for a day or two). But her biggest sensitivity seems to be how she gets distracted by guys and love.

I loved this quote from Lily’s best friend Tess:

“This is who you are, Bird. It’s the reason people who have never met you send you holiday cards, and knit your face into sweaters, and light candles for you at church. They love your music, yes, but they also love you. Like, really love you. And it’s because they know you care about them. You care about everyone. You’d fall in love with a paper bag if it hung around you long enough.”

Because I knew that this book was loosely based on TSwift, it made it almost impossible for me to read it as if it was anyone else. So it was a bit hard to make Lily her own character in my head. I didn’t really mind, though. It was an interesting exercise for me, because I don’t usually go for the retelling or fanfic kinds of stories. It was also interesting to read it just as Taylor’s breakup with Calvin Harris and new ‘relationship’ with Tom Hiddleston (I call lies) started to play out and knowing the world is just so ready for new Taylor post-guy songs.

Lily’s relationship with Noel is super sweet, he’s just that quiet hometown boy who doesn’t really want to be in the spotlight, so Lily has to figure out how to combine her two favourite lifestyles/circles. Reading Sing was like the equivalent of watching a Disney Channel movie (I loved that). It’s a simple story with all the predictable plot points, but it’s so enjoyable. It’s a great light summer read – I read it within two days – and will leave you wanting to dance around your bedroom to poppy love songs.

This entry was posted in Books.

Georgia Nicolson Readalong – Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers

then he ate my boy entrancers

Welcome back to the Georgia Nicolson Readalong!

Quick refresher: in honour of our dearly departed Teen Queen Louise Rennison, I started a readalong so that we could read (or re-read) her classic Georgia Nicolson series. Every three weeks we’ll post about the next book in the series. You’re invited to join in at any time!

You can catch up with posts on Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, Knocked Out By My Nunga-NungasDancing in My Nuddy Pants and Away Laughing on a Fast Camel.

Please note that if you haven’t read this book yet and intend to, there are spoilers!


Alright, here we are, book 6! We find Georgia on the rack of luuurve pining after the replacement Sex God, the stereotypical Italian heartthrob Masimo, thinking that she can find him when her family goes on a trip to America.

So, a theme across this book seemed to be that Georgia is kind of dumb. She never truly realizes how big America is – her friends make fun of her for not paying attention in ‘geogs’ but she never actually sees a map this whole time. Georgia and her family are going to Memphis, but Masimo is in Manhattan. Georgia thinks she can just take a bus or phone up Masimo while she’s there. Oh, teen love. They’ll stop at nothing!

Georgia actually convinces her parents to let Jas come along on the trip.

“Jas, I am so vair vair full to the brim with excitementosity. Aren’t you?”

“Hmm.”

“Yes, so am I. Let’s sing ‘New York, New York’ to get us in the mood.”

“No.”

“That’s the spirit. You see, that is why coming to Hamburger-a-gogo is sooo good for you – it will broaden what there is of your mind.”

I started to sing, ‘I want to be a part of it, New York, New YORK!!!!!’

I stopped because of intense pensioner glaring when we passed the post office.

Jas was slouching along by my side like a trusty . . . badger.

“Jas, why do they call it that? New York, New York? We don’t say London, London, do we?”

“Hmmm.”

“Perhaps it is because Hamburgese people are a bit on the slow side and don’t get it immediately, so they have to say it twice.”

The girls are actually pretty funny and sweet with each other on the trip, and I loved the commentary on ‘why the heck are Americans so nice to us? What do they want?’ though there was one scene at the end of their trip when the girls decide to do a naked photo shoot with bison horn hats on in their hotel room, which was completely random and weird on a few levels. Yknow, like when Georgia constantly calls Jas a ‘lezzie’ (and does again as soon as they get home) and the fact that they were never shown as comfortable with their bodies like that before, and just, what? I really don’t know.

Once they get home, the hunt for Masimo is back on, because he was pretty much forgotten after a couple days in the US. But Masimo is full of mixed signals – rolling up on his scooter, kissing cheeks, asking for phone numbers, and not just for Georgia. She sees him flirting with ‘Wet Lindsay’ aka the older girl who also went out with Georgia’s first boyfriend Robbie (first), so the competition’s already there, and Georgia gets sad and jealous. At this point, Georgia’s in a state of confusosity – with the Masimo game, the fact that she received a letter from Robbie saying he still thinks about her all the time, and Dave the Laugh admitting he thinks he made a mistake and that they should be together – a girl’s got some pondering to do. But right now, her mind’s all Masimo. He eventually valiantly asks her on a date by showing up to talk to her father, giving off the appearance that he’s a suave nice guy (hm, foreshadowing that he’s a player? I think so.) and Georgia is elated to go out with him.

He put just the tip of his tongue in my mouth; it was really sweet. I felt so full of luuurve for him that I put my tongue in his mouth a little bit. And our tongues touched!!! They were snogging as well!!! When you describe it it doesn’t sound like it would be very nice, but it is. Perhaps that is why Angus and Gordy put the tips of their tongues out, because they know how sexy tongue-touching can be,

No, on second thoughts, I know that they put their tongues out because they are idiot cats.

Y’know, I am quite impressed that Georgia never seems to shy away from getting intimate with a guy. She barely has any shame and she likes to get what she wants. Which is why it was nice to see a bit of depth when she realized she couldn’t handle seeing a guy she likes with someone else any longer, and that she wanted someone who could call her their one and only girlfriend. Thus, some interesting tension between her and Masimo who has to take a week to decide on if he could do that (tip: if a guy says that, I feel like it’d be okay to dump his bum).

While Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers showed us a bit more depth and dimness to Georgia, it was a bit of an uncomfortable read. Part of me is feeling impatient and I just want her and Dave to end up together and be happy, but alas that is not the life of an average teenage girl. I also wish the books were a bit more fast-paced. Let’s see what happens in Startled by His Furry Shorts, which we’ll discuss on July 26!

This entry was posted in Books.

Challenge: How many unread books are on your shelves?

our true shelves

Confession: I have a lot of unread books on my bookshelves. Tuff life. It drives me bonkers every day, just looking at them, teasing me. I so badly want to read them all by yesterday. Because awesome new books come out every week. How is a bibliophile supposed to keep up? I receive new books pretty often to review, on top of buying ones that I’m interested in, and I really want to read all of them. Who knew being interested in so many things could bother you? :p But the only way I could do that is if I did nothing else. (Wouldn’t be the worst.)

I know I’m not the only one with this problem. I see all you book bloggers and bookworms with your fantastic shelves on Instagram and know there’s just no way you could have read all those books. We can’t feel too guilty because we know we’re supporting authors, publishers and bookstores, and we’re interested in lots of stories, so let’s be proud and honest about what we have. 😉

I have….. 136 unread books on my shelves.

So, I challenge you! How many unread books are on your shelves? Share on Twitter and Instagram with #OurTrueShelves!

This entry was posted in Books.

Book Review: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

the loose ends list via paper trail diary

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone, via Little Brown, out now.

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

“Hey Mads, one more thing. I want to make sure you understand that this trip is not about poor, dying Gram.” She looks at me, her face serious. “That is not what I want from all of this. I want to have some laughs, and get you people out of your boring little lives. This is not about dying. It’s about living. Do you understand?”

Maddie is so close to finishing high school when she finds out that her beloved grandma has pancreatic cancer. But not only that – Maddie’s grandma, Astrid, has booked the entire family for an eight week summer ‘vacation’ on a death with dignity cruise to see her off in style. From Maddie’s Loose Ends List of things to do before she starts university, in which she had crossed out ‘change hair colour,’ to Astrid’s list that takes the family all over the world in order to say goodbye, you could say Maddie’s boat has been rocked.

Maddie is the kind of pretty girl who doesn’t drink but drives all her sloppy best friends home from parties, the kind of girl who is the proper popular girl in school. (So I got a kick out of her being brought down a few notches by randomly mentioning that she has IBS. *shrug*) Maddie is careful, focused and safe. She has a ‘scrunch face.’ She’s a bit self absorbed. Astrid wants their adventure to show Maddie how much she can be living by taking risks, jumping in head first and not asking questions. (So, obviously, this includes hooking up with someone, smoking weed, getting a tattoo and learning to accept death.) It is interesting to be along for that mental process.

Maddie belongs to a dysfunctional family which includes her drunk mom, boring dad, stoner brother, sexy cousin, senile aunt and gay uncles. Each of them have something to overcome on this adventure, and they all learn new things. Some of them take a front seat in the story, which I liked. And I enjoyed how ridiculous Astrid is, though I could never imagine my grandma acting that way. What I liked the most though was how the family interacts with the other families on the cruise – the ones who were dying and the ones who love them. It gives them perspective.

Maddie and her family have lived a pretty privileged lifestyle, and to be able to say goodbye to a loved one in such an extravagant way is quite a finale. Astrid’s wealth is never really explained, but it is endless enough that it can generously help every main character out. I’m talkin’ Astrid not only paid for 10 people to travel the world, but she also helps bankroll the cruise ship and has arranged to leave a significant amount for everyone once she passes. But it’s quite clear that we’re not supposed to be thinking about the money here, we’re supposed to be thinking about how people can learn and grow, it’s just something that stuck with me. Is this really realistic? Should it be?

When I started reading the book, I enjoyed its silliness and fluffiness. I was excited to travel the world through the characters. It was a pretty quick read, but around the middle it started to plateau and I was a little impatient and annoyed. I had a bit of a hard time keeping track of characters and locations because there were so many. It’s definitely a summer read – it’s cool to read books in the time frame that they take place in, too – and it’s best if you just abandon control and go along for the ride. There’s romance, adventure, and family problems galore! A winning mixture. This book also won major points from me because it’s the prettiest cover I’ve seen all year! I can’t stop looking at it!

This entry was posted in Books.

Check out the International Geek Girls Pen Pals Club

pen pal via paper trail diary

If you’re looking for a fun new corner of the internet to belong to, the International Geek Girls Pen Pals Club is a vibrant online community for fandom-loving, book-reading, letter-writing pals. Seriously, just following them on social media is so fun, positive and inclusive. There is so much in their world – forums, book clubs, videos, swaps, etc – for people to dive into and get creative with.

If you join the IGGPPC, you are sorted into a House for your age range. This gives you access to the full community.

Every month, the IGGPPC runs a pen pal matching service – you can sign up between the 15th and last day of the month by filling out a form about yourself and what you harbour a fandom love for. Then the mods will find someone in your House that would make a great pal! Every month the group has a theme too – this month is ‘craft-a-mageddon!’

Hankering for a new pen pal who loves the same things you do? You two would make lovely mail together. You can sign up now!

international geek girls pen pal club

iggppc-manifesto

Georgia Nicolson Readalong – Away Laughing on a Fast Camel

georgia nicolson away laughing on a fast camel paper trail diary

Welcome back to the Georgia Nicolson Readalong!

Quick refresher: in honour of our dearly departed Teen Queen Louise Rennison, I started a readalong so that we could read (or re-read) her classic Georgia Nicolson series. Every three weeks we’ll post about the next book in the series. You’re invited to join in at any time!

You can catch up with posts on Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas and Dancing in My Nuddy Pants.

Please note that if you haven’t read this book yet and intend to, there are spoilers!


We are now halfway done the Georgia Nicolson Readalong! It’s going by so quickly!

After a couple duds, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel put a little zing back into the Georgia Nicolson series. For most of the book, Georgia is realizing the power she can have over guys and is figuring out how to use it. When the book starts, she is mourning losing Robbie the Sex God to New Zealand, but still can’t stop thinking about Dave the Laugh. But Dave soon falls to the friends-with-benefits zone once Georgia sets her eyes on the Stiff Dylans’ replacement singer, Italian-American Masimo.

I found it a bit odd that Georgia has so easily written Dave into ‘Horn Advisor’ territory, but is so casual about ‘oh then why did we snog?’ – I think she’s just choosing not to see what’s there, and likes having attention from multiple guys. She also knows it would be upsetting for her friend Ellen if she made another public move on Dave, who is clearly a boy version of Georgia – goes out with other people while still into someone else. Georgia is at the point in her teens (at this point she is 16) when she’s really only focused on how sexy a guy is, not so much on what’s inside his head. But she does start to realize that guys are usually focused on the same thing. To Georgia, Masimo is yet another confusing heartbreaker of a rock star, whereas Dave can see a true version of Georgia and be enamoured by it.

This quote was quite serious in a book of comedy, after Georgia is feeling a bit traumatized by advances from her neighbours.

Jas said I am being all mean and moody because of Dave the Laugh, but what she doesn’t know is that it’s not just Dave the Laugh, it’s Oscar, and now Mark Big Gob as well. I feel all ashamed somehow. Like I am tainted love.

I really liked reading Georgia’s relationship with her friend Rosie in this book. While she still dubs Jas her best friend, even though treating her horribly, Georgia and Rosie have more of what you’d expect from a best friend relationship. They are more frankly supportive of each other, listen to each other and have fun together. Georgia just always makes fun of Jas and never listens to her. Though that’s put to a test a bit once Jas’ boyfriend, Tom, Robbie’s brother, decides he also wants to go to New Zealand.

Georgia’s family is still in a continuously hilarious ‘ditherspaz,’ which I love reading because it’s so bonkers. But you do get some clues that her parents can be unhappy but she doesn’t care. Libby is still the weirdest kid ever, who walks around the house singing “Sex Bum, Sex BUM, I’m a Sex Bum” and calling the broom “bloody thing, bloody thing.” Interesting things she picks up! Another new character in this book was Gordon, one of Angus’ fur babies. Georgia’s little sister Libby forcefully adopts him and he becomes a point of humour throughout the book – the father and son cats who love getting into trouble.

Away Laughing on a Fast Camel also provided many beautiful quotes, such as “I feel like a bean in a bikini, tossed around on the sea of life,” “I am exhausted by trying to get along with the Lord,” and “over the shoulder boulder holder.”

Some problems we noticed in the other books such as Georgia’s obviously confused homophobia is still there, unfortunately. It makes me wonder what Louise thought, if this book was such a mirror of her life. I would say at this point these books don’t fully stand the test of time, but they can still provide a bunch of dumb laughs.

What did you guys think of the book? We will reconvene for Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers on July 5.

This entry was posted in Books.

Book Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

with malice via paper trail diary

With Malice by Eileen Cook, via HMH Books, out now.

Jill is pretty disoriented when she wakes up. In fact she can barely move or speak. Her head feels like it’s going to explode. Jill didn’t just wake up from a long night of partying – she woke up in a hospital with no memory of the last six weeks. But those memories are crucial because what knocked her out was a tragic car crash on a school trip to Italy. Her best friend Simone was in the car too, but didn’t survive. Jill doesn’t know yet that people are blaming her for murder outside of the hospital walls.

What a hook, right?! If you’re not interested in a story out of that then I’m going to think you live in a cave with fire as your only entertainment. As suspense/thrillers are all the rage these days, the genre has been leaking into YA, like with The OutliersWith Malice joins those ranks with intensity and mind games.

With Malice follows Jill’s time spent in the rehab hospital, regaining her physical strength and trying to will memories back into existence with a psychologist. She’s often posed with the question of ‘well even if you don’t remember, do you think you would kill her if you got angry?’ which she rejects because Simone was her best friend, Simone meant everything to her. Why would she do something like that? And why don’t people believe her?

While Jill is being speared in articles and blogs by former classmates, trip mates and complete randos as a hateful bitch, jealous of Simone and murderous because she’s quiet, she has to sit inside and read it all, unable to do anything about it. Then she finds out there was a man. That she was supposedly in a relationship with an Italian TA, Nico, on the trip. She doesn’t remember that at all, and is shocked that she even had a boyfriend because he would’ve been her first. Theories pop up about sleezy Nico’s involvement and how Simone was always desperate to be the centre of attention. Was there a love triangle? Did Nico kill Simone? So many questions.

I found that With Malice ended up being more about psychological themes than dark and suspenseful. It clearly is trying to spit what we often see in the media back at us: people can be completely torn apart without facts, using photos out of context and impressions other people had. We could think something about someone based off an impression but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

They had another picture of me too. Someone must have taken it during rehearsals for the play. I was wearing my costume, and I had on bright red lipstick. The photo had caught me mid-laugh so my mouth was open wide. It looked like I was cackling. I looked like ‘that person.’ The kind of person who talks during a movie, who cheats at Monopoly, who drops food on the pages of a library book and just turns it in, the person who uses the last of the toilet paper and lets the next person air dry. The kind of person you hate.

People are always hungry for a story and a witch hunt, especially one that pits girls against each other. “It doesn’t matter what’s true,” Jill’s hospital roommate Anna tells her, “what matters is what people believe.”

We have to think alongside Jill: what would we do if we were pushed to our limits? What can we picture ourselves doing? How much can we trust our memories? How well do we know ourselves? How much do you care about what others think of you? It’s tiring to work your brain like that but it’s worth it.

With Malice is going to get people questioning a lot of things this summer. It brings you in with a thrilling hook and sits you down to think. It’ll give you clues throughout Jill’s narrative, blog posts, articles, police interviews and a travel guide to the places in Italy they were in. You’ll go through it quickly because you’ll want to be connecting the dots just as much as Jill does.

I have thoughts about the ending but obviously I won’t share them! But if you’ve read it too, I want to discuss.

Thanks to Raincoast Books, I’ve been included on the With Malice Canadian blog tour. Check out these other great bloggers who are all giving their two cents about the book! Melissa at YA Bookshelf has her review up today, too.

With Malice Blog Tour

With the blog tour comes a question I got to ask Eileen:

TPPD: Memory is the real pinpoint of the story. To lose six weeks worth of it is terrifying. How good do you think your memory is? I have a terrible memory and that worries me sometimes. What’s a memory you have that you’re not totally sure is solid (could it be more from hearing what others have told you, a home video, etc)?

Eileen: I worked for years as a counselor for people with catastrophic injuries and illness, including brain injury. One of the hardest aspects for people to cope with in the recovery phase was the loss of memory—not knowing what happened in your own life is freaky! What really happened to anyone is filtered through past experiences, memory, and belief systems. In the book I hoped to give readers the experience of trying to sift through all this information and decide for themselves what they believed happened.

Recently I was talking to my long-term best friend Laura about how we met when she moved to our small town. She suddenly interrupted me saying: “That’s not how it happened at all! Don’t you remember I was friends with Carrie first and we only became friends after Carrie became sick and had to leave school?” As soon as she said it the memory snapped into place, but before she mentioned it, I had completely forgotten about Carrie. Zap. Not in my head at all.  I remembered it completely differently. I had complete memories of how I talked to her on her first day—and all of that never happened. It was a bit disturbing. It makes me wonder what else I’ve forgotten and replaced with a different memory.

Are you excited to read With Malice? How well do you trust your memories?

This entry was posted in Books.

Book Reviews: Flannery and Museum of Heartbreak

flannery and the museum of heartbreak via paper trail diary

Here we are with another couple YA reviews! Told you guys I’ve piled them up lately. Today we have two super cute contemporaries about young girls who are loveable but need to go through a life lesson or two in order to see their surroundings a bit differently.

Flannery by Lisa Moore, via Groundwood Books, out now.

Flannery, a 16-year-old living in St. John’s, Newfoundland (I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a character in Newfoundland!), has a few problems. Her single mother can barely afford to pay rent or buy her a textbook, her best friend has ditched her for a new boyfriend, she has a big assignment for her entrepreneurship class due and she’s partnered with the guy she’s had a crush on since she was a kid. Tyrone is the bad boy now, but that’s not who Flannery remembers, but that’s who she’s attracted to. She still thinks of him as the vulnerable boy. Tyrone is barely at school and never shows up to help with her assignment, but she’d still drop anything to spend five minutes with the eternally stoned motorcycle dude he has become. But it was his idea for their project to come up with a business: love potions. Fake potions, they’re just like mood rings, a novelty. But then word gets out around school that the love potions work.

The book is presented to be more about Tyrone and the love potions, but I felt that it ended up being more about Flannery’s relationships in general, especially with her mom and her best friend. Both of these relationships are going through trying times and Flannery needs to see how they’re going to resolve themselves. She’s constantly angry with her mom, Miranda, for being weird and poor, and she misses her friend Amber like crazy because Amber has basically up and dumped her for a new social circle and controlling boyfriend with no warning. (The Amber storyline is the saddest – I appreciate that more books are tackling what a friend breakup can be like, as it’s something very real that people go through at all ages but don’t really talk about it.)

I thought the story itself was pretty cute and realistic; I think it’s loosely based off the author’s and her children’s lives, and I quite liked Flannery as a character. She has great vocabulary – “hoofed it” and “beat it” in reference to hurrying somewhere made me giggle – and she’s a little bit clueless so you follow her as she learns. I did think that the story progressed too slowly, though. I craved a bit more action and focus. The love potion part didn’t even come in to play until after 100 pages. I was also a bit distracted by quotes not being within quotation marks (but that’s just a personal thing). Overall, it was still an enjoyable read and I treasured it even more so because it was Canadian.

(Thank you to House of Anansi / Groundwood Books for the review copy.)

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, via Simon & Schuster, out now.

This book is going to be high up on my Best of 2016 list. I absolutely adored reading it – it was so fun and adorable, I felt giddy bringing it around to places with me.

Penelope Marx has a lot of similar problems that Flannery had – pining after a seemingly unattainable boy, having a falling-out with a best friend, and being completely oblivious when someone else likes you. But when Flannery felt slower, The Museum of Heartbreak felt bouncier. I liked Penelope a lot even though she could be a bit of a baby sometimes; I think maybe I saw a lot of myself in her when I read it or I felt like her big sister, wanting to guide her. And I realized while reading this book that maybe one reason why I like YA so much is because I get to be immersed in versions of high school that are cooler than my own was.

Penelope doesn’t like change. Like, really doesn’t. She wants things to always be the same in her comfort bubble. But to Penelope, right now, everything is changing, so she’s not very happy. She collects little things that were given to her as nostalgic items, which are adorably chronicled ahead of each chapter in an illustration. They all eventually amount to The Museum of Heartbreak. (I really want to know – what came first, the items in the book or the items used for the cover art?) This book also contends for one of my favourite covers of the year.

I happily dog-eared so many pages in the book for quotes and important moments. Penelope’s voice is just so softly cheeky. Like “…his grin was sly and handsome, like a fox, or a character from a Wes Anderson movie, or that fox character from that Wes Anderson movie…” when describing her crush, Keats (who is an idiot!!). Or when debating how to answer what she wants to do in college: “I shovelled some spaghetti around on my plate. ‘I’m thinking more English or journalism. Words, I like them?’ I ended uncertainly.” (That just made me laugh because I identified with it so well. Even with the spaghetti.) I loved reading the interactions between her and her male best friend Eph, who so obviously likes Penelope but she has no clue. And it was tough to see her go through the fight with her other best friend Audrey because of miscommunication, jealousy and a boy.

I’ve recommended this book to friends as a great refresher after reading dark things for a while, though you can read it whenever – it’s lighthearted, sweet and seriously fun. We all know it’s fun to read books and all, but I really felt that extra happiness while reading this. The Museum of Heartbreak is out next week and I think it’s going to do really well!

(Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Chapters Indigo for the review copy.)

What are some of your favourite cute contemporary YA novels?

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