Come to Q&A Letterbox’s First Anniversary Party!

q&a letterbox anniversary via paper trail diary

My good pals Q&A Letterbox (aka Queenie and Andrea) are throwing an amazing party tomorrow to celebrate their subscription package’s first anniversary! If you’re not aware of Q&A Letterbox, let. me. tell. you. Every month, they send out three Canadian-made greeting cards, plus a goodie of some sort. The cards are guaranteed to be absolutely gorgeous and the packaging is always top notch. It’s a delight to receive in the mailbox!

Q&A have planned an awesome shindig for tomorrow evening (6 to 9 pm at Toronto’s First Post Office). I’ll be there at a table providing lots of free stationery (papers, tapes, stickers, ephemera, coloured pens, etc) in order to write letters right there on the spot, as well as selling my curated letter writing kits! I’m super excited to be doing something like this again. But there will be sooo much more to indulge in!

At the event, you can:

It’s free to attend (but obviously will cost you if you want to buy things, and you will want to buy all the things. Fair warning 🙂

Can’t wait to see all my fellow paper-loving Torontonians tomorrow!

Georgia Nicolson Readalong – Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants

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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 and Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas.

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


The first three books in the series strongly enforced the theme of what it’s like to be a girl who is starting to go through puberty, getting attention from guys and fighting with friends. It solidly did the job over three books, but it needed to pick up the pace a bit. Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants doesn’t quite highlight that much about the aforementioned besides mentions here and there about buying bras and boys leering at them in the streets. It doesn’t quite highlight anything. Not much happens, and it feels like an in-between. I feel like if this series was to be published in current day, the requirements for plot would be a bit different. I’m not sure what it was like a decade ago, but it’s interesting to think about. I know it’s more realistic that big drama doesn’t happen all the time, but for these kinds of things, reality has to be bent a bit. But by the fourth book, a series has attracted an audience who will gobble anything up.

The one thing I really liked about this book was that there were more funny scenes with Georgia’s family. They may not be funny to her, but they sure are to everyone else. In one scene, Georgia’s dad was trying to prove he was manly around her mum by saying he was going to do sit-ups:

When I went back into the front room, Dad was back lying on the sofa watching TV. I asked him, “How many sit-ups did you do?”

“Well, I think it’s a mistake to rush into things.”

“Just the one, then?”

He pretended to be interested in some gardening program.

Here’s another with her mum and little sister Libby:

Libby was still up when I got in. She had her pajama top on but her bottom was flowing free and wild. She is not what you would call inhibited, which is a pity. She was giving Teddy a late-night haircut. Mum said when I came in, “Come on, Libbs, it’s very late and your big sister is home now. Time for bed.”

Libby didn’t even look up, she just said, in an alarmingly grown-up voice, “Not now, dear, I’m busy.”

I’ve also always fondly remembered Sven, Georgia’s friend Rosie’s Swedish boyfriend. I remembered that there was a scene that made me laugh for a million years when I first read it as a teen. It was this:

Met the gang at the usual place to go to the gig. Sven had his special flares on. They have a battery in them and little lightbulbs all the way down the seams. When he presses the battery his trousers light up. He really is bonkers. And huge.

When we got to the door of the Buddha Lounge he said to the door guy, “Got evening, I am Sven and these are my chicks. Let us in, my trousers want to boogie.” And Rosie isn’t a bit embarrassed.

I still think it’s great!

The more and more Georgia teases her best friend Jas for being moral and boring, the more I like Jas, to be honest. So I was satisfied when Jas finally bit back a bit when Georgia’s apologizing for hitting her knee in field hockey by offering to carry Jas home. “All right, don’t drop me, though.” She then made Georgia polish a badge and feed her a snack. Get it, girl.

Through the book, Georgia moons over how Robbie’s band The Stiff Dylans are going to America (“Hamburger-a-go-go-land”) and she daydreams about going with him. But she must be thinking in the back of her mind that that’s not going to happen for her, though he may leave eventually (she doesn’t quite address it in her diary, but come on!). So when we get to the end and Robbie breaks it to her he’s leaving – though to go work on an ecological farm in New Zealand instead – she’s upset but confusingly relieved. And since Dave the Laugh dumped her friend Ellen, that’s where her mind is going to go, because she’s still quite attracted to him and realizes she can be more herself around him than she could with Robbie. I don’t remember what happens next, but I’m predicting Georgia + Dave will be the force of the next book, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (one of Dave’s sayings).

Overall, I read this book in about an hour, so it wasn’t a horrible thing that I was bored by it, really. One hour of my life. I still got some giggles, so that’s fine by me.

What did you guys think of the book? We will reconvene for Away Laughing on a Fast Camel on June 14.

Book Review: Shrill by Lindy West

shrill lindy west via paper trail diary

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West, via Hachette Book Group, out now.

I didn’t know Lindy West’s work well before I started reading Shrill. I knew she was the woman who wrote an awesome article about being fat at her wedding for the Guardian, and when I heard about the book, I just knew I wanted to read it. I’m really glad I did. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman is Lindy’s (who is a freelance journalist and comedian) way of singling out things about society in relation to feminism that need to change (and along the way, some people, too). In this book, her essays tackle stand up comedy, men who troll women online, abortion, society’s reaction to a woman getting her period and how people’s bodies are perceived. She says a lot of things that many other people can’t, and she makes it funny in a comfortable way. It’s a genuine charm to her writing. You feel like she’s just telling you this stuff over a pint at the bar and you’re eagerly nodding at her as she talks like “Yes! Yes!”

I imagined Lindy’s fingers on fire as she typed out this book. It’s not that she comes across as angry, it’s just that she has important things to say and she just has to say them.

My body limits my job prospects, access to medical care and fair trials, and – the one thing Hollywood movies and Internet trolls most agree on – my ability to be loved. So the subtext, when a thin person asks a fat person, “Where do you get your confidence?” is, “You must be some sort of alien because if I looked like you, I would definitely throw myself into the sea.”

I took comfort in her essays about her body; I wished that I had something like this to read when I was younger. She wrote about her body in relation to her work, to being on an airplane, to falling in love, to trying to defend feminism in a way that needed no explanation of her body type.

My body, I realized, was an opportunity. It was political. It moved the world just by existing. What a gift.

Read this excerpt from the essay “Bones.”

I was excited when I got to “How to Stop Being Shy in Eighteen Easy Steps” but it turned out to be not so generally helpful, but more 18 embarrassing life situations she’s had. Though that didn’t stop it from making me laugh – “You know what’s a liberating thing to figure out? Everyone’s butt looks basically how you think it looks.”

I think a good handful of her essays were extensions of or in relation to pieces she’s published elsewhere like Jezebel and the Guardian, which is normal for this kind of book, but I think some of them could have used more backup. For example, towards the end, the book starts to run out of a bit of steam and she addresses her wedding, but in a very brief essay. I think it would have been better if it included more of that article or reflection about it, so people who don’t really know her writing get more context.

One discussion that she did spend a good amount of time on – in two essays – is on rape jokes and male comedians. I read this book over the last month an essay at a time while reading other books, and this is what stuck with me the most. Lindy described how some male comedians tackled rape jokes in stand up comedy a few years ago. It’s always been a thing, but when Daniel Tosh verbally attacked a woman at one of his shows, it unleashed a much-needed debate. The typical male response has been “oh well comedy should tackle everything,” but Lindy’s argument is that okay, maybe you can tackle rape, but you can do it in good ways and you can do it in very bad ways. She described a lot of bad ways. She described the backlash she got from big male comedians like Jim Norton and Patton Oswalt and their slew of man-troll fans.

Feminists don’t single out rape jokes because rape is “worse” than other crimes – we single them out because we live in a culture that actively strives to shrink the definition of sexual assault.

The main gist is: when you make a joke about rape, there is probably a rape survivor sitting near you who may be struggling with what happened, wondering if they should report it, or severely traumatized. Do you think that’s funny? It was upsetting to read how easily men could charge at her about that opinion and sexualize her in the process, but not surprising. Lindy goes on to expand the argument to how this makes women feel unsafe in comedy. How people listen to men (“Nobody cared about Bill Cosby’s accusers until Hannibal Buress repeated their stories onstage with his veneer of male authority”).

Shrill is a good book to read if you want to feel good about where feminism is headed. If you want to savour important work by a great writer. If you want to laugh and get angry at the same time. If you are a woman who has ever felt jilted by society. The list goes on and on. I highly recommend this book – I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I think it carved itself a great big notch in the modern feminist essay genre. I now want to follow Lindy’s work, and I think a lot of people will too. I don’t doubt this book will be on a lot of people’s year end lists! Lindy West is a force to be reckoned with – her voice will be loud for a very long time to come.

(Thank you to Chapters Indigo and Hachette Books Canada for an advanced reading copy!)

This entry was posted in Books.

Book Review: Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y K Choi

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Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y K Choi, via Simon & Schuster Canada, out now.

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

Mother-daughter relationship and cultural background issues intertwine in Ann Y K Choi’s first novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, which was heavily based on her life. The main character, Mary (her Korean name is Yu-Rhee), struggles with growing up as an immigrant in Toronto in the ’80s: she is disconnected from white people and how they live their lives, she is bogged down by her parents’ strict Korean traditions and just as a girl turning into a woman by stressful circumstances.

Mary helps out in her parents’ variety store below their apartment on Queen Street West, where if a store is broken into, the owners let the thief take anything rather than putting up a fight and being seen as weak. The story follows Mary’s rough goings from Grade 11 until university graduation – through aggressive customers, a crush on her English teacher and unwanted advances from a family friend. Mary is often alone, in the store, in her friend group and in her family. She is different than the rest. She wants to eschew her Korean background for the normalcy white skin provides, but when provoked, she protectively fights for her culture. She keeps those feelings locked up, but tender. Mary’s narrative feels detached, monotonous, but it is rare that she feels a moment of happiness or peace. She is often angry or annoyed.

“Why don’t you have any Korean friends?” My mother would always begin the same way on the days my friends were coming to visit. Then her voice would turn accusatory, hostile. “You don’t like Korean people. You’re ashamed of our culture. But you’ll marry a Korean man if you know what’s good for you.”

 

Although I was always silent, I hated when she talked this way because part of me knew she was right. I wished I was bold enough to say to her: You can’t force me to be proud of my culture when you’ve given me nothing to be proud of. Life, I imagined, would be easier if we were white, ate white food, and took vacations at places like Myrtle Beach or Cape Cod. I also secretly desired a white last name, a name I didn’t need to spell out for people. It was remarkable how many people misspelled Hwang. It annoyed me that many people believed I was Chinese.”

Joon-Ho (or Sean), who Mary met on a trip to Korea for her grandmother’s funeral via her aunt’s neighbour, ends up coming to Toronto for university. He’s the closest thing to her culture that isn’t her family, and he has ways of enticing her with that connection. From the beginning you can tell he is a character you can’t trust though, and he becomes increasingly irritating. Romantically, Mary is obsessed with her high school English teacher Will, and pursues him once she graduates. Problems ensue from there, and they’re hard to ‘witness’ as a reader. You’re wishing you can urge Mary to shed these guys but she is stuck.

Mary’s relationship with her mother is the typical kind we all know, but fuelled with secrecy, forced traditions and misunderstandings. Mary is never hugged or told she is loved by her family, her family just doesn’t do that. Mary rejects what her mother wants, but doesn’t realize she’s practically following in her footsteps.

kays lucky coin variety via paper trail diary

Ann is very vocal about how much this book has been influenced by her own life. She too grew up above her parents’ variety store on Queen Street West and sparred with her mother. I noticed how in the book, Mary’s mother always pesters ‘we work so you can have the happy life we didn’t get’ and now Ann is telling her daughter the same thing; she wants her daughter to know how she had to work for a better future. (Read more of what Ann has to say.) Recently at a reading of hers I went to she explained that it wasn’t just her story though, it was many other Korean immigrant women’s stories too. She felt that it was her duty to share because Western literature is severely lacking in diversity. Mary even acknowledges that in the book, that she wants to write so there can be something written by a Korean out there. Can you name many other books you’ve read by Asian authors? Ann’s motivation is real and a good piece of changing modern literature and I’m glad she was given such a platform for her story.

[When fighting with Will because he didn’t read anything by Asian authors she gave him]: Maybe it was my fault; I was expecting him to embrace that part of me that was foreign to him – to leave the comforts of his white world and try to see things from the point of view of an Asian protagonist, or at least go to a restaurant that didn’t require a steak knife.

I really liked this story (and am soooo curious of what her mom thinks of it because it got real tense at times). It was interesting, a window into a world I haven’t lived and soaked in life. I had difficulty at times with Ann’s writing style for Mary because her voice was passive and sometimes flat. Time would pass but we wouldn’t have known it unless she mentioned something in passing. For example, when Mary was speaking to Will about her writing: “Having just received yet another rejection letter from a poetry magazine to which I’d submitted several of my poems, I couldn’t help but shake my head at his compliment.” I found sentences like that happened a lot – it was more telling than showing. It felt like I had to connect the dots a bit. Nevertheless, that did not deter me from being invested in the story, and I am really interested in Ann’s next book that she is currently writing, based on a great-grandfather of hers who had taken two wives. At the reading last week she told the room she was having a lot of fun with destroying the character for the sake of her great-grandmother, so, I think it’ll be good! 😉

Ann Y K Choi’s story serves an important spot on Canadian literature’s bookshelf, and I hope people pick it up to read. (The library where her reading was said they had over 100 holds on it, so I think it’s doing quite well!)

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Exciting fall teen reads via Raincoast Books

fall teen reads raincoast books via paper trail diary

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Raincoast Books‘ fall/winter preview for YA and middle grade titles (check out the Twitter feed for lots of coverage – #TeensReadFeed). It was a fun picnic-like gathering of book bloggers, and though the event was actually in Vancouver, we got to Skype in from Toronto. Raincoast is a distributor in Canada, which means they are in charge of selling/distributing books within Canada from certain multiple publishers. The lovely team presented a lot of books, but I want to tell you about the ones that caught my interest. While I’m not into YA fantasy that much, as much as I want to be (quite the huge trend these days), there were plenty of suspense and contemporary books that I’d pick up. So here they are to mark on your to-read lists for the fall and winter! (It’s coming up sooner than you think.)

Middle Grade:

Write This Down by Claudia Mills. Out September 27th via BYR.

“Twelve-year-old Autumn loves to write. She finds inspiration all around her, especially in Cameron, the dreamy boy in her journalism class who she has a major crush on. Then her older brother, Hunter, who used to watch out for her but has grown distant since he started high school, reads one of her poems about Cameron to Cameron’s older brother. They make fun of it and she is devastated. Determined to show her brother how talented she really is, Autumn decides that she is going to become a published author – now! She writes an essay about her changing relationship with her brother, enters it in a contest, and wins, and her dream of publication is within reach. But if her essay is published, everyone will know her family’s secrets. Is being published worth hurting those you love?”

Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil. Out October 4th via HMH Books for Young Readers.

“Fifteen-year-old Shay Summers is trying to cope with the death of her father, being overweight, and threats from a girl bully in school.  When she falls in love with Blake, a mysterious boy online, insecure Shay doesn’t want to tell him who she is. But with the help of her two best friends, as well as an assist by Kermit and Miss Piggy, ultimately Shay and Blake’s love prevails.”

Young Adult:

With Malice by Eileen Cook. Out June 7th via HMH Books for Young Readers. (I know it’s not fall, but it’s coming up, and I’ll be on the blog tour in a few weeks!)

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.”

Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss. Out September 13th via HMH Books for Young Readers.

“Jordan, 1970. After a summer spent with her family, fifteen-year-old Anna is travelling back to her English boarding school alone. But her plane never makes it home. Anna’s flight is hijacked by Palestinian guerillas. They land the plane in the Jordanian desert, switch off the engines and issue their demands. If these are not met within three days, they will blow up the plane, killing all the hostages. The heat on board becomes unbearable; food and water supplies dwindle. Anna begins to face the possibility she may never see her family again. Time is running out . . . Based on true events, this is a story about ordinary people facing agonizing horror, of courage and resilience.”

The Cabin by Natasha Preston. Out September 15th via Sourcebooks Fire.

“When Mackenzie treks to a secluded cabin in the woods with size friends, she expects a fun weekend of partying, drinking, and hookups. But when they wake to find two of their own dead and covered in blood, it’s clear there’s a killer among them. As the police try to unravel the case, Mackenzie launches her own investigation. Before long secrets start to emerge, revealing a sinister web of sins among the original seven friends. The killer is still free. Every one of them is a suspect. And Mackenzie starts to realize that no one is innocent.”

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige. Out September 27th via Bloomsbury USA Childrens.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is. Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything… including Snow’s return to the world she once knew. This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.”

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Out October 4th via Thomas Dunne Books.

“When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves. To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.”

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. Out October 4th via BYR.

“Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens. Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.”

One Was Lost by Natalie Richards. Out October 15th via Sourcebooks Fire.

“Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful. Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them. Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…”

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith. Out October 25th via Roaring Brook.

“A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul. No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.”

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti. Out January 15th, 2017 via Sourcebooks Fire.

“A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.”

This entry was posted in Books.

Sign up for the Pretty Postal Floral Swap

pretty postal floral swap

Three of my favourite Canadian snail mail goddesses – @dreyray, @omiyage_ca and @ash_is_magical – have teamed up to create the site Pretty Postal and their first project is running a floral mail swap! This is totally my jam.

I love seeing creative new snail mail swaps pop up, so you bet I’ve signed up for this!

The Pretty Postal Floral Swap connects participants with 3-5 other mail-loving people-flowers for you to send floral mail to. The main part of the game is to decorate your envelope but there is nothing stopping you from what you put inside it!

This swap is happening this month, so only sign up if you have time to do it. Sign ups will be on May 8th and 15th, and mail must be sent by the 31st.

Read the rest of the Floral Swap details.

The Paper Trail Diary turns 2!

paper trail diary birthday

Happy birthday to The Paper Trail Diary! It’s been two years since I’ve been writing about books, zines, snail mail and paper crafts, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I so enjoy being able to review books and write about mail projects. I’ve met so many amazing people through blog and social media connections too, which has been really valuable to me. I’ve started projects like The Notebook and Pen Swap and the Chain Letter Short Story Project (#2 should be coming back to me in a month or so! Ah!), have participated in events (stay tuned for news on another!), begun working on a book proposal and more. This blog has done so much for me, but only because of you guys, you lovely paper dolls, so what better way to give a shout back than to do another giveaway!

But first, here are some highlights from the past year:

10 things to learn if you wanna be a fangirl

Sea & Lake’s Cards for Allies

Book Review: Snail Mail by Michelle Mackintosh

Book Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Getting into pocket letters

5 things you’ll relate to from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better

Book/Movie Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

A Toronto Favourite: Paperchase

Favourite Instagrams: Snail Mail – Pen Pal Edition!

Stationery Talk: Adorable notepads and unique cards

Zine Spotlight: Winged Snail Mail

The 2015 Notebook & Pen Swap: Incoming photos!

Incoming and Outgoing: The Creative Exchange

My Top 10 Books of 2015

On getting an e-reader

Book Review: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Check out the third Flow Book for Paper Lovers

This year’s giveaway includes two packages, one for you and one for your friend.

This is what you’ll get:

paper trail diary birthday

A copy of one of my favourite books, Me Before You (thank you, Penguin Random House Canada!) and five bookmarks. Read it before the movie comes out next month! Get ready to ugly cry.

paper trail diary birthday

These adorable punny cards and stickers from Queenie’s Cards and a snail highlighter!

paper trail diary birthday

A copy of Static Zine’s love issue and typewriter/coffee themed bunting!

This is what your friend will get:

paper trail diary birthday

A copy of the awesome YA novel Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland (thank you Dundurn Press!) and five bookmarks! This book will really get you in the mood for summer.

paper trail diary birthday

These adorable punny cards and stickers from Queenie’s Cards!

paper trail diary birthday

A copy of Static Zine’s love issue and pink patterned bunting!

Because Instagram is the place that inspired me to start the blog, is where I’ve made so many friends and is where I generally do most of my blog-ness rather than the blog, that is where the contest will be!

In order to enter the contest, you must do all four of these steps:

1. Head over to this picture on Instagram.

2. Like the picture.

3. Follow me on Instagram if you aren’t already.

4. Comment with a friend’s handle who’d get their own package.

Fine print:

Your account must be public and not an exclusive giveaway account!

Unfortunately I have to limit this to North America because shipping prices are extremely high these days. Sorry, international friends 🙁 I have smaller giveaways often which are international!

I will chose a winner randomly Saturday (May 8) morning.

Good luck, and thank you so much for everything!

#GeorgiaNicolsonReadalong – Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas

knocked out by my nunga nungas via paper trail diary

Welcome back to the #GeorgiaNicolsonReadalong with Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas!

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 and On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God.

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

If you thought Georgia’s hormones were awakening in the first two books, you were in for a heightened volume this time around. Georgia’s body is changing, and people, mostly boys, are noticing. Aka, she starts to develop breasts (or as her social circle calls them, nunga-nungas because ‘when you let one go it goes nunga nunga nunga,’ also, basoomas). Remind me why, at 28, I thought it was a good idea to read this again? :p

The first chunk of the book tackles unwanted touching. We’d call it assault now, but Georgia didn’t know much other than feeling really uncomfortable. When she was on a family trip in Scotland, a local boy who she dubbed Jock McThick somehow reached out in the dark night and touched her when she was out for a walk. How creepy is that?! Georgia immediately freaks out and calls her ‘potato’ of a mate, Jas. But Jas questions the interaction in a really bummer way.

She said, “Erlack a pongoes. Did you encourage him? Maybe you gave out the wrong signals.”

“Jas, I was not in the nuddy-pants.”

“Well, I’m just saying, Jock must have thought he could rest his hand on your basooma. Why is that? He has never rested his hand on my basoomas, for instance.”

“Jas, you are three hundred miles away. You would have to have nunga-nungas the size of France for Jock to be able to rest his hand on them.”

“Yes, well… I’m just saying, even if I was, you know, in Och Aye land, next to Jock, well, even then, you know…”

“What are you rambling on about?”

“I’m just saying this is not the first time this has happened to you, is it? There was Mark, the Big Gob…”

“Yeah, but…”

“You say it just happened. That just out of the blue he put his hand on your basooma. No one else was there so we will never really know for sure.”

“I didn’t…it was…”

“Perhaps Jock has heard about your reputation. Perhaps he thinks its alright to fondle your basoomas.”

When I read this as a teen, I probably didn’t think much into it. But now I just feel gross. The fact that Georgia’s so-called best friend questions the experience because it wasn’t the first time a guy touched her is just troublesome. And crap for a best friend. Georgia is still so upset when she gets home that she asks her mom for a breast reduction surgery, and her mom just laughs at her. And then Mark the Big Gob teases her in front of his friends that ‘she could put an eye out with those.’ Gosh.

But Georgia feels back to normal when she’s home and cars honk at her; she writes ‘I really have become a boy magnet.’ So she’s validating herself in a way. For teenage girls, perhaps the biggest form of a compliment is that people think you’re attractive. Reading parts like this reminds me of my teenage years, of just craving someone to notice and approve publicly. Yuck. (I guess I turned out alright though?)

Georgia is still all-consumed by the fact that she’s now the girlfriend of a sex god. But she rarely sees him or talks to him (though isn’t suspicious of that very much). Most of their interaction is snogging. And now that Dave the Laugh (her ex who she used to make sex god Robbie jealous) with her friend Ellen, he is more appealing of course, so Georgia starts feeling a bit confused. She ends up kissing him a couple times at parties.

2:30 am

For heaven’s sake. It was just a little kiss! I am a teenager, I’ve got whatsit…lust for life. Also it was probably my hormones that made me do it (Officer).

So, we’ll see how that goes. 😉  In Dancing in My Nuddy Pants, Georgia must decide between ‘ear snogging’ and ‘nip libbling.’

Georgia still exhibits homophobia, using ‘lesbian’ as an insult about her gym teacher and to taunt Jas. This is also a big bummer. I’m not sure if she ever snaps out of this in the series. It does make me curious of how Rennison viewed the world.

How do you guys feel about reading things like this now? Do you feel comfortable to keep going or does it entirely put you off? I know some of it is a sign of the times but that doesn’t exactly make it okay. It is interesting to read something I read when I was much younger and see the difference. Yes it taints the memory I have of the books but I think it’s important to keep things in check. And what does it mean when we remember the funny parts fondly but didn’t remember the bad things? Is that good? When I re-watched Boy Meets World, my world was shattered when I saw how much of it was filled with religion and conservativeness. The memories I had of it before I did that were all just fond of the dynamic between the characters.

Up next is Dancing in my Nuddy Pants, which we’ll discuss on May 24.

Stationery Talk: Sumikko Gurashi cuteness

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

I am a fan of cute things, especially stationery. (No, really?) I don’t tend to veer toooooo kawaii, but this is about a good estimate of where I’ll get to. My new favourite cuties are Sumikko Gurashi, shy little Japanese characters that tuck in corners and stick with each other. Check out this great chart of the characters and their back story. There’s a penguin, cat, pork cutlet, bear, piece of dust, scoops of ice cream, a weed, a snail and a blanket. Teehee.

I’ve been coveting this little blue piece of paper (below) for years since people have sent it to me in mail, but was never able to find until recently! Thank you for the tip Taren, and for stocking, ShopKawaii.com 😉

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

It’s a little sheet with the characters snoozin on bookshelves. SERIOUSLY! I had to have it. Turns out it comes from a mini notepad. Each of these notepads have two designs, so now I am just as much in love with the little yellow sheet, too. These are a great size for a tiny thank you note in zine orders, sticking a few in an envelope to a pen pal, as note-taking bookmarks (v. handy if you don’t want to write in your book), grocery lists, notes to self, etc. See, reasons!

And of course there are many versions of notepads.

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

Slumber party!

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

Ice cream!

Feeling summery, I also grabbed a watermelon stationery pack.

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

Which includes four pads of adorable paper.

sumikko gurashi stationery via paper trail diary

And four sets of super cute envelopes!

There are also these little flake stickers, my new favourite ephemera, like the cat pack.

It’s hard resisting buying more now that I’m on the cusp of obsessed, but I’m having a lot of fun using these 😉

What kind of Sumikko Gurashi products do you love? Do you covet any summery or bookish stationery?

How do you read?

read all the books

How do you read? Do you read one book at a time at a steady pace? Do you read a handful of books at once over a month? Do you marathon through books and take a break for a while? Do you alternate genres or ‘vibes’ of books? Do you prefer e or print or audio?

Here’s how I usually read: one print book at a time over a week or two, usually alternating genres (say YA then non-fiction or a graphic novel then fiction) or vibes (if I just read a really sad book, I’m going to want to read a happy book next). Now that I have an e-reader, a few of those are thrown in every other month or so too.

Lately I’ve been reading what I classify as a lot of books at once, though. (Rounds out to about three at a time.) It’s because of a hectic schedule, running a readalong and suddenly a giant pile of ARC submissions, but also other books coming out that I’m interested in. I just want to ingest them all at once and I haven’t figured out a balance. I pick up a book, and another one falls into my lap. Serious life problem! 🙂 It’s got me feeling a bit jumbled and delayed, but it also feels like an exciting challenge this time. I figure if I want to work in publishing then I have to say goodbye to the reading one book at a time method. Time to flex those brain muscles!

So far, so good. In the past when I’ve ended up in this predicament, I’ve worried that I won’t absorb the book the same way as if I was dedicated to just that one, or that I’d forget what’s going on. Maybe the books I’ve been reading the last few weeks are different enough, because I haven’t felt this way. And I definitely don’t absorb non-fiction the same way as I do fiction, that usually takes me longer. I still feel like I’d prefer to read one at a time, I love that feeling of just giving myself to a story for a while, but not every book beckons that kind of experience. And if I do get pulled into one, then I will dedicate more time on finishing it. This past weekend I read a whole book in a day, which I haven’t done in a while! So maybe this is actually helping me read more.

Can you believe there’s a WikiHow on how to read this way?

Ok, so what if you’re reading multiple books but some of them just don’t grab you within the first 100 pages? Do you keep reading, or do you put it down? I used to keep reading, being optimistic that it would get better, or feeling FOMO in case something big happened. But last year I had to put a stop to that. They can’t waste my time! Then there’s Goodreads, which I take pretty seriously in terms of keeping track of what I read. If I got halfway through a book, do I count it as read? That feels like cheating, but it also feels like a waste of time. I created a Currently Paused shelf for this reason, but I’m always curious about if other people count their half-finished as finished.

It all resonates with this musing on reading multiple books at once on BookRiot: “To clarify, a book I don’t love doesn’t slow me down because of a difficult reading level; it slows me down because I keep making excuses not to pay attention, or even pick the book back up at all. Inversely, if I have fallen in love with a novel, had my vision tunneled down to the nothing but the fictional images in front of me on the page, I can finish the densest of tomes in mere hours.”

So, how do you read? Do you have any tips or tricks to tackling a few books at a time?

Let’s keep up with each other – follow me on Goodreads!

This entry was posted in Books.