Check me out in Creativity magazine!

do crafts creativity magazine via paper trail diary

A few months ago I was interviewed about happy mail for Do Craft’s Creativity magazine, which is from England — and now the magazine is here! I had no idea it would be the cover story. I feel super special, especially to be alongside my pen pals, queens of mail, Fab and Andrea.

The magazine isn’t available in Canada where I’m from (sad face) so I hope it’s alright that I scanned the article so you guys can see it!

I am now even more sad it’s not available here because it is a beautiful magazine and I could just look at it all day. And it comes with goodies — I got some cute wooden postcards and stickers in my package when the team kindly mailed me a copy <3

So check out this awesome article — you can click on each picture to enlarge it! Thanks again, Creativity!

do crafts creativity magazine happy mail via paper trail diarydo crafts creativity magazine happy mail via paper trail diary do crafts creativity magazine happy mail via paper trail diary do crafts creativity magazine happy mail via paper trail diary

YA Books 4 Life at Indigo Teen’s Fall Preview

indigo teen preview paper trail diary

YA books have become the majority of what I read — I love them for so many reasons: how they tackle tough issues, how they embrace imagination, how gorgeous I find so much of the writing (and covers), the community that surrounds the books, and so on. And besides loving to read them, I love to talk about them. So it’s a real treat to be invited to Indigo’s preview events for teen books! Last night I attended one for books that are coming out in the fall and let me just say, there are some real big players coming up!

I don’t want to divulge too much into too many specific books yet as I have a separate post planned, but I can share some highlights. Two books I have been waiting for what feels like ages for — Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star and Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up the Universe — were there for us and it seriously felt like Christmas. I am itching to read them but alas I have some more pressing reads first! Another big get was The Thousandth Floor, which you will be hearing about a lot more from me in the near future.

indigo teen preview paper trail diary

indigo teen preview paper trail diary

indigo teen preview paper trail diary

There were about 25 or so bloggers in attendance, and guys, YA bloggers are the sweetest people. It’s so lovely to be able to interact with them IRL once in a while 😉 When we came in, we all got a seat which was already occupied by a bag full of books and goodies! After grabbing some snacks and oggling everything around the room, we sat down to listen to the teen and childrens category buyers from Indigo — the people who decide what books to stock in your local store — and what they’re really excited about coming up. It’s so much fun to watch them because they get so excited about all of the titles, which then makes everyone furiously scribble in their notes about which books to keep an eye out for. Later, the team asked the bloggers about what we’re excited about and what we’ve been reading lately that we love, which encouraged a lively discussion! Besides being the sweetest people, YA bloggers are also the most enthusiastic 😀

Oh and we also got to see new gorgeous decor and stationery items — so like, this is the whole package, my friends.

indigo teen preview paper trail diary

I’ve noticed that most of what Team Teen is excited about is fantasy, which is a massive percentage of YA book popularity these days. So, it makes sense. I am not the most interested in it, I just really love my contemporary, but I still find titles that I get really into, such as recently This Savage Song and Red Queen. And maybe I just haven’t found the right books to get me into the rabbit hole yet! I completely understand why fantasy is so popular within YA, and I’m fascinated in watching its growth in stores and online, so I like hearing about titles I could recommend to friends who would be interested. So for books that Team Teen mentioned in fantasy coming up this fall, I was interested in Three Dark CrownsStealing Snow (which I’ve already heard great things about from Raincoast, and do have a copy to review!); The ForgettingBright Smoke, Cold Fireand Spindle.

Coming back to contemporary, titles I think you should put on your TBRs include — besides the aforementioned books — Girl Mans Up (I’ve read it, SO GOOD.), Girl in PiecesEvery Hidden Thing and The Female of the SpeciesBut again, you’ll be hearing more from me about a lot of these books soon 🙂

Author EK Johnston — A Thousand Nights; Spindle; Exit, Pursued by a Bear — was a guest of honour at the event. She is hilarious and just jumped in to express her excitement about other books throughout the evening, as well as talk about the fact that she has THREE books out this year (Exit is already out). I grabbed a signed copy of Spindle, but I would like to read A Thousand Nights first! I have Exit and it’s still high up on my TBR.

indigo teen preview paper trail diary

Anyways, I want to thank Indigo for the generous invitation and the opportunity to share more information about upcoming YA reads! What books are you guys excited for this fall?

I have been writing some blogs elsewhere lately! *gasp* Check out these posts on The Savvy Reader and Frenzy, which are part of HarperCollins Canada, where I’ve been interning for the last couple months. It’s been the most wonderful experience!

Perfect Pairings: Books and Songs
The Best Books to Read in Your Twenty-Somethings
The Best Places to Read in Canada this Summer
14 Books to Read This Fall (relevant!)

Another side note — I am behind on my Georgia Nicolson Readalong, yipes! I will have my update on Book 8 — Love is a Many Trousered Thing — next week instead.

This entry was posted in Books.

Check out the #PaperHaul subscription box!

paper haul gaze of dolls via paper trail diarySubscription boxes are still all the rage – especially in paper-based communities! While book ones are ready to take over the world with bookish pride, stationery ones are more quaint and full of crafty possibilities. Remember the Happy Paper Club for example?

I recently got a chance to take a look at what’s inside one of Crafty Creatives’ monthly #PaperHaul boxes and you can bet there were squees involved!

#PaperHaul is based out of the UK – so shipping within UK is £2.00, EU is £5.00 and international is £6.00. The monthly base cost is £10. Not too shabby! This box celebrates a different stationery designer each month, with contents like cards/envelopes, notepads, stickers, washi tape, postcards, etc. These products are exclusive to the box!

The box that I received featured the designer Louise of Gaze of Dolls Designs – these pieces are in the realm of Alice in Wonderland but with their own weird, bright, animalistic twist!

paper haul gaze of dolls via paper trail diary

#PaperHaul includes a postcard with the designer’s info.
paper haul gaze of dolls via paper trail diary

Stickers, washi tape and notepad! I really like the stickers, and the notepad will be useful for lists or short notes!paper haul gaze of dolls via paper trail diary

Here’s one big card, two postcards, and three mini cards. Wacky!paper haul gaze of dolls via paper trail diary

There you have it! You could get an exciting box of exclusive indie stationery by signing up with #PaperHaul!

What kinds of boxes do you subscribe to? What do you want out of stationery subscription boxes?

Thank you to Crafty Creatives/#PaperHaul for the box!

Georgia Nicolson Readalong – Startled By His Furry Shorts

startled by his furry shorts via 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-NungasDancing in My Nuddy Pants, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel and Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers.

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


Hello dear readers! Sorry I’ve been so AWOL these days, here and on Instagram and such. I have recently been going through a big life change – I quit my job in order to do an internship at HarperCollins Canada, which has been a very busy and rewarding experience in just the last month! I am so happy that I am working with books every day, helping to get them out in the world and in the hands of loving readers.

So apologies for this post being delayed, though! I will try to figure out a better system soon 😉 I am actually doing some blogging over at The Savvy Reader now, so go check that out!

Startled By His Furry Shorts is the 7th book in the series – we only have three more after this! To be honest I’m totally okay with that – while this has been fun, re-reading this series has been an interesting trek. I’ve learned that these books really don’t stand the test of time, unfortunately, which is kind of a bummer to think about after the author has passed away. I still 100% back that they served a super important purpose in the time frame they were published in – they were a great pinpoint of so many girls’ adolescence all over the world. Girls found an awkward hero in Georgia – she made us laugh and she made us feel okay about some of our flaws.

So in this book, Georgia is left hanging after she told Masimo that he had to decide if he wanted to be her boyfriend. The jerk told her he’d take a week to decide, which like, hello, red flag. I was impressed with Georgia for doing that – it was a bit out of character because usually she’s just kind of at the whim of her crushes. Of course she feels like crap after, doubting herself and waiting. So Masimo of course comes back and says no, he cannot be her boyfriend. Georgia’s confused and hurt and jealous of another girl, all the while being confused by her friends-with-benefits-ship with Dave the Laugh, who has finally sort of drawn a line in between them (I am expecting this to be crossed soon!). I kind of wish Georgia could have spent more time growing as an individual rather than just totally focused on boys, but, I sure remember a lot of my adolescence being focused on boys.

Startled reads just like it plays out – like we’re just waiting. It’s filler until we get to a cliffhanger ending, really. I wish I could remember what I thought about these books exactly when they had come out – if I was satisfied with this kind of storytelling or not. And I think I may have stopped here or on #8, so I actually don’t know what’s coming next, which I am happy about!

Here are some of my favourite quotes from the book:

I can’t believe I am once more on the rack of romance.

And also in the oven of luuurve.

And possibly on my way to the bakery of pain.

And maybe even going to stop along the way to get a little cake at the cakeshop of agony.

Shut up, brain, shut up.

Never have sugar on bread. It is disgusting.

“Yep, I tried the girding of the loins scenario, however my loins came ungirded. Which can be quite painful, especially if you are wearing tight jeans.”

Well that’s it – I don’t have much else to say about this one, folks. Til next time! We will pick back up with Love is a Many Trousered Thing on August 16. All I want is for Georgia and Dave to date. THAT’S ALL I WANT. And of course that will be dragged out in proper teen drama fashion!

This entry was posted in Books.

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.