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

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

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Join the Halloween Book Lover Postcard Swap!

book lover postcard swap halloween

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

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

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

Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

moxie the paper trail diary

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

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

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

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

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A look back on the 2017 Notebook & Pen Swap

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

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

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

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My TBR for Fall 2017

paper trail diary's fall 2017 reads

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

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Reading round-up: Strong female characters

paper trail diary book reviews

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

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

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

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

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

Spinning by Tillie Walden

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

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

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

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

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

What have you guys been reading lately?

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A Toronto Favourite: Curiosa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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