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!

Continue reading →

This entry was posted in Books.

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!

Continue reading →

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?

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

Book Reviews: Words in Deep Blue and Everything All at Once

words in deep blue, everything all at once

Gosh do I love it when books cater directly to me. I’m such a sucker. Anything about books, mail, anything papery, well, you know that’s my jam. So when I heard about new YA novels Words in Deep Blue and Everything All At Once, I was like ummm give them to me now. And I was not disappointed! Here are short reviews of the two books, and by the end of the post, if you are like me, you’re going to race to go get your own copies.

Continue reading →

This entry was posted in Books.

The enamel pin addiction


Ever since the enamel pin craze started a year or two ago, I’ve always understood their appeal, but never did I feel obsessed with having them until now. Realistically, I don’t have great places to put them on my clothing but somehow I just have to have them. I will make it work. I felt myself catching the addiction yesterday as I attended Toronto’s first ever Pin & Patch Show – basically a room full of awesome pins. At least I know I’m not alone – my friend and I were 144th in line waiting to get in! I bought four, bringing my current collection up to 16, and yet that feels small. I’m doomed (and so impressionable).

Last night I spent a gross amount of time searching for all kinds of enamel pins on Etsy, Pinterest, and Instagram. I can’t decide which ones to get first! I have to represent myself in pin form – Books! Mail! Crafts! Cats! Harry Potter! Napping! Everyone must know that I enjoy things in a cute way!

Head below the jump to see sooo many nice pins.

Continue reading →

This entry was posted in Crafts.

Sign up for the 2017 Notebook & Pen Swap!

2017 The Notebook and Pen Swap

It’s back!! I know it’s been a while, but it’s back, and I am excited. It’s once again time to send someone a nice notebook & cool pen!

Check out some of the fantastic swaps from 2015.

We all love a good notebook and pen. New tools like these are a great way to refresh creativity, find comfort, or take notes of opportunities. I know a lot of you are like me, in that we hoard pretty notebooks and pens, but I am of the mind that there’s no wrong in adding another pair to the collection here and there. 😉

In the past, the swap has been a round robin style, but this time around, it will be matched, and you will know who your partner is.

Want to join in? Just fill out the form below! But first, please read these notes:

  • Keep shipping costs in consideration. The heavier the notebook, the more you could pay in shipping.
  • Keep your notebook purchase to around $20. Pens usually vary but $5 is a pretty good cap, I’d say. No need to go out and buy someone a quill!
  • The notebooks and pens need to be new and unused.
  • It’s preferred if you can get tracking on your package, but understandable if you can’t afford it.
  • Only sign up if you know you can commit to the timeline and costs. It is super frustrating when someone joins and gets a package, but doesn’t send their partner one.

IMPORTANT DEADLINES:

  • Sign up closes on Wednesday, July 19. It will then take a few days for me to match everyone and send out emails. Please do not message me saying you signed up and haven’t heard back before then.
  • You should pop your swap in the post by Monday, August 7. Please email your partner if you cannot do so by then.

Remember to share on social! Use the hashtag #notebookpenswap (there you can see more photos, too)!

Thanks for signing up!

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

when dimple met rishi via paper trail diary

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon, out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

This entry was posted in Books.