Review: Before I Fall (book and movie!)

before i fall via paper trail diary

If today was your last day alive, and you had the chance to keep living it, what would you do differently? What would you say to the people you love? What would you learn about yourself? How long would it take for you to go a little bit nuts?

Lauren Oliver’s 2010 YA novel Before I Fall has just been turned into a movie, and it’s out this week. I had the pleasure of seeing a screening thanks to HarperCollins and Indigo. I really loved Replica so I was instantly interested. I bought the book a few weeks ago and finished it on Monday, just in time. So I want to share my thoughts on both with you guys!

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Book Review: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

love and first sight via paper trail diary

Love and First Sight, by Josh Sundquist, via Little, Brown, out now.

If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s people feeling sorry for me.

Love and First Sight ticked a lot of good boxes for me. Cute YA love story? Check. Great characters? Check. An opportunity to learn about how life is for someone unlike me? Check. Funny, heartwarming, smart? Check, check, check.

Will is starting at a new high school, which is hard enough as it is, but it’s 10x harder when you’re blind and have to be led around by the vice principal, who shouts at everyone to ‘clear the path! Blind student coming through!’ Will decided to leave his high school for blind students to try and have a more normal life, as normal as it can get for a blind kid in a high school. On his first day, he accidentally grabs a girl’s boob, sits in a guy’s lap, and somehow made a classmate cry because she thought he was staring at her.

The girl who cried is Cecily, and despite the bad start, her and Will become very close once they’re partnered together in journalism class. Will is the writer, Cecily is the photographer. One of my favourite scenes is when they go to an art gallery and Cecily has to figure out how to explain the point of painting to someone who has never seen anything before.

“Um, let me think of an example.” She pauses. “Okay, it’s like how you can be looking at something, a person or a beautiful landscape like, I don’t know, the Grand Canyon, but then you take a photo with a cell phone camera and it doesn’t look the same. It takes skill even to create photos that represent what the eye sees.”

Sigh. Will people never learn? “Still doesn’t mean much to me.”

“Oh, right, sorry. I guess it’s like… You know what my voice sounds like, right?”

“Yeah.” I ponder her voice for a moment. It’s controlled and pressurized, like the water flowing through a turbine in a dam. But dams don’t just generate power. They are a barricade. They hold back a flood.

“And the sound of my voice is very clear coming through your ears?”

The question interrupts my thoughts about hydro-power. “Sure.”

“Can you imitate it?”

“How do you mean?”

“Like, can you re-create the sound of my voice using your own vocal cords?”

“Oh… I think I get it now.”

Will easily falls into a group of friends (after he sits on that guy’s lap), which happen to be Cecily’s friends, too. As the pair grows closer and closer, even daring each other to try out for the school’s news anchor team, something is still going unsaid. Cecily drops hints about how she’s been bullied and left out of things, but never explains why (and Will is too much of a dude to realize he could ask). And then comes a bombshell: Will is eligible for a surgery that could give him eyesight, and he decides to go through with it, even at such a risk. He’s so excited, but Cecily seems hesitant, and he doesn’t get why. The idea the book plays with is what could be up with Cecily’s appearance? Why’d she cry when she thought Will was staring at her? Have people been lying to Will about what she looks like? Does it matter what she looks like?

While reading, I drew a few comparisons to Holding Up the Universe. Both play with the idea of appearances and how we can fall for people for who they really are. But while the other book felt a bit more obvious in that regard, somehow this book played out in a more subtle manner, even though it actually seems like it should be the other way around. It felt more innocent and cute, I guess, while Holding Up the Universe is a bit darker and more rooted in trauma. I think the way that I read the two comes into this opinion, though!

I loved Will’s voice. Josh Sundquist is a vlogger and motivational speaker (after surviving cancer and a leg amputation), and has written books about such called We Should Hang Out Sometime and Just Don’t Fall. He’s a happy, loving presence who puts himself out there. So he gets voice. I fell for how Will perceived the world, and learned about what it’s like for blind people in certain regards along the way. He can be a bit snarky at times, and I don’t blame him, but he can also be very sweet and clever. I also adored Cecily and can realize how excited she would be that she could have someone around that can’t see what everyone else sees and judges her for. So even though the characters don’t exactly have any edginess to them, this is the kind of book you read when you feel like you need to hug a book. I had a lot of fun with it, and wished I hadn’t read through it so quickly! I hope Josh continues to write YA fiction.

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

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MinaLima reimagines Beauty and the Beast to all of our hearts content

beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary

Happy release day to the GORGEOUS new edition of Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by the people behind the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films! You may recognize the book to look a lot like their previous offerings of Peter Pan and The Jungle Book, but always see them in the store as shrink-wrapped. You’ve had no clue what’s inside. They’re shrink-wrapped for a reason: THERE ARE TREASURES IN THERE. Literally maps and trinkets of TREASURE. And if it wasn’t for trusty bloggers and vloggers, you wouldn’t know! So, you’re welcome.

I have been so excited for the new film version of The Beauty and the Beast (omg that new trailer) and I’ve been trying to find a copy of the text to read for a while. Turns out it’s pretty hard to find. NOT ANYMORE! While this does lean on the pricier side, it’s worth it. I don’t really need to say anything else besides *DROOL*, so just keep scrolling.

beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary beauty and the beast by minalima via paper trail diary

Are you gasping for air? I am just looking at it. I’m so enjoying reading the story and flipping through all of this beautiful magic! Such wonderful pieces of art and joy inside. This book is definitely a good way to escape the world for a little while.

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Book Lover Postcard Swap round 3! Valentine’s Day!

book lover postcard swap valentine's day

It’s time for the third r-r-r-round in the Book Lover Postcard Swap! *said in crazy radio announcer voice*

I’m particularly excited about this one, partly because I love playing with cute paper goodies that are pink and lovey, partly because I know the cards you guys come up with are going to be awesome! And the prompt for this round is to write about the greatest love story you’ve ever read 😍

Barb and I were so pleased with how the first and second rounds went, and we hope you were too! We’d love to hear any feedback or see any photos if you have any.

Check out these amazing posts by fellow bookworms on Instagram!

Interested in sending someone a bookish postcard? Read below for more information and instructions on how to participate!

Check out the 4th Flow Book for Paper Lovers

flow book for paper lovers 4

One of my favourite sets of paper products is the Flow Book for Paper Lovers. The editors of Flow magazine bring together some of the most gorgeous art from their magazines or new work done by their favourite artists, resulting in a gorgeous mish-mash of perforated pages filled with all kinds of cool things like tags, envelopes, pop-up designs, writing paper, posters, bunting, stickers, confetti, projects, etc. These books generally come out once or twice a year.

I’d say the fourth book is my favourite yet. There is not one page in the book that I don’t like! But that means that it’s hard for me to part with them in mail or other crafts, so I have to keep reminding myself it’s better to use them than keep them locked away 😉

Now for products like this, I know I have to see a lot of what’s inside before I make the commitment to buy. I think Flow tapped into that feeling when they finally started doing animation videos, and after I looked up some videos on YouTube I was sold. Now you can do that too, but I’m just gonna say right now it’s worth it. Here are some of my favourite pages!

flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary

flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diaryflow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary flow book for paper lovers 4 via paper trail diary

Want to see more? I didn’t want to upload so many pictures your computer would break, so check out this adorable video flip-through!

I’ve been using the book mostly for making mail so far, but I love daydreaming about what else I could do with all these possibilities!

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Book Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

hundred lies of lizzie lovett / paper trail diary

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti, out now, via Sourcebooks Fire

I’m honoured to be a part of the blog tour for Chelsea Sedoti’s new YA novel, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett!

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is here to tell you that what you see of a person is not all there is to see, and that people can change, too. It’s a lesson, wrapped up in adventure, curiosity, and hormones. You know those tales of ‘don’t assume someone’s carefully crafted Instagram account means they’re living the perfect life’? This story comes along those lines (though has nothing to do with social media). It comes in the twisted story of the popular girl and the outcast.

Hawthorn has spent her life feeling like the outsider. She’s never really had friends, and the ones she does have, she ends up pushing away. She’s hostile, bitter, rude, and stubborn, and yet doesn’t totally understand why she’s lonely. When she finds out that Lizzie Lovett, the former prom queen of her high school, is missing, her first reaction is “who cares?” She rolls her eyes at how people are so upset and worried, but before she realizes it, she’s been completely sucked in. As someone who spent a lot of time growing up wishing to be popular, I get the fascination with the popular kids lives, especially if you’re in a suburb or small town. They shine and glow and you think you’re the only one who doesn’t like them, and how come nobody else sees it. So Hawthorn ends up becoming obsessed with thinking about how popular Lizzie was and trying to figure out how she went missing. So obsessed that somehow she ends up taking Lizzie’s job as a waitress at a diner and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend, Enzo, who a lot of people suspect of harming Lizzie.

“I wanted to crawl into Lizzie’s head and know her thoughts and feelings and what made her tick. I wanted to slip into her life. I wanted to be the kind of person who made life seem easy.”

Eventually Hawthorn convinces herself that Lizzie is actually a werewolf, and gets Enzo to go on expeditions with her to find evidence in the woods, all the while not admitting to herself that she’s falling for this 25-year-old guy. The more she hangs around Enzo, the more she learns about the person Lizzie became, and it’s not what Hawthorn expected. Her head gets even more muddled.

Hawthorn is vulnerable, angry, and a bit naive. She’s not a romanticized character — you probably won’t like her much, but she’s got an interesting perspective to read, and it’s realistic in terms of how people perceive others. She’s also quite witty. One of my favourite things about this book was how if someone pissed her off, she would wish really odd ill-wills on them. Examples:

“I wished Mychelle and her stupid jock buddy would win the lottery and lose the ticket. I wished they would only ever be able to take cold showers. I wished every glass of lemonade they drank for the rest of their lives would be just a little too sour.”

“I end up spending most of the day wishing horrible things would happen to them. Like every time they try to stream a video, it’s laggy, or that all their important emails get sent to the junk folder.”

“I wanted him to accidentally slam his hand in a car door. I wanted his ice cream to fall off the cone and onto the pavement on a really hot day. I wanted him to read a really great mystery, only to find someone had ripped out the end pages where it was solved.”

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is an introspective read for the beginning of the year; it will make you think about how you perceive others, your high school self, and who you are now.

I got to ask author Chelsea Sedoti about just that!

The book largely deals with a girl who doesn’t seem to like herself, wishes she was someone else, and envies other’s lives. Stories like this tend to make me think back on how I acted in high school. What were you like in high school, and what would you say to high school you about it?

In high school I was very strange. (Honestly, not much has changed.)

Here’s a thing I did in high school: My friends and I would play “secret agents”. We had walkie talkies and assigned ourselves roles of either special agents or villains, and ran around school between classes playing an elaborate, tag-like game. Let me repeat, this was in high school.

Here’s another thing: I wanted to be a filmmaker, and took my video camera to school with me. Every day. I’d film my classes until my teachers yelled at me to stop. I’d have people act out skits during lunch. I’d film every random conversation my friends and I had.

This probably won’t come as a shock, but I was not popular in high school.

I was the weird kid who was in theater, who was always reading, who was always trying to play pretend to make life more interesting. I wasn’t as much of an outsider as Hawthorn, though. I had (similarly weird) friends. I went to dances and football games. Sure, I got made fun of sometimes by the “cool kids”. But I wasn’t a complete social outcast either.

Another big difference between me and Hawthorn is that I was fairly secure in my weirdness. I never obsessed with being popular and didn’t mind that there were people who didn’t like me. On the other hand, it was an awkward time, and there were a million other things I was insecure about. It was a weird balance of accepting who I was and simultaneously disliking a million things about myself.

I guess if I traveled back I’d tell high school Chelsea to carry on. Be weird. Play secret agents. It doesn’t matter what other people think. But maybe I’d also tell myself to spend a little more time doing my school work instead of spending class time with my nose in a book.

Thank you to Raincoast Books and Chelsea Sedoti for including me in your blog tour!

hundred lies of lizzie lovett blog tour

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Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

i see you via paper trail diary

I See You by Clare Mackintosh, via Berkley Books, out now.

Do you ever think about all the people you see on your commute to and from work? Do you ever raise your eyes up while on the subway and look around? Wonder who these people are, where they’re going? Wonder how their day went, if they’re okay? Most of us go about our business on our commutes, staring at the floor or an ad or a book, losing ourselves to a loud album through headphones, or dozing. A lot of people flick through newspapers, whether they picked them up in the station or from the seat they want to sit on, learning what’s going on in the world while they’re so busy doing their jobs. What none of us expect is to flip past the personal pages in that daily paper and suddenly realize we recognize our own face staring back at us.

In her highly anticipated follow-up to I Let You Go (which I still haven’t read, gah!), British author and former police officer Clare Mackintosh plays with the heebie-jeebies of feeling eyes on your back, the mystery of being one fish in a giant sea that is a city, and tackling the danger that women face, often in secret or under scrutiny.

Zoe Walker is that someone who sees her face in the paper — along with a phone number and a listing for a website, The picture is grainy and zoomed in, and she cannot figure out where it came from. Who got her picture, and why is it in this ad? She’s a middle-aged mum of two young adults with a live-in boyfriend, working for a real estate agent, living a boring, normal life. Zoe knows in her gut that this is incredibly fishy, but everyone around her thinks it’s just some weird joke and to let it go. But when Zoe recognizes other faces in more ads for the site and connects them to theft and even murder, she knows that she has to trust her gut on this one. Could she be next?

I See You rotates through three POVs: Zoe, a young policewoman named Kelly Swift, and the unnamed uber-creep that is watching women all over London. One of the biggest themes of the book, abuse of women, sits largely with Kelly, as the cop who desperately wants to cover the case of connecting the dots Zoe has found, as a way to avenge how her twin sister was raped while in university. The rape haunts Kelly more than her sister, which continually confuses and frustrates her, motivating Kelly forward on her hunt for justice. Zoe is kind of a bland character, and we mostly just see her on high alert because who wouldn’t be if they realized they’re being watched! The creeper’s voice is, well, incredibly disturbing.

If you’re as into the grip-lit craze as I am these days, I See You will definitely get your heart-rate up. I was guessing through the whole almost 400-page book of who the murderous creep could be and how they’re administering such horrors. I don’t want to give away much because it’s better to find it out yourself, but this book will give you the shivers because it feels all too-real. Some grip-lits seem too soap-opera-y to be relatable, but this one comes pretty close. You know that what’s going on could really happen and that’s a huge part of why everything is so upsetting. By the end, I was completely taken off-guard, sweating from not being able to turn the pages fast enough, and yet craving more. These days watching Happy Valley is filling that weird fascination (and it plays out a lot like a grip-lit book), but I’m ready to find the next mystery that’ll keep me on my toes.

I See You will leave its mark on you — for a while, you’ll be more aware of yourself and your surroundings as you set out on your commute, and though it might feel uncomfortable, it’s not a bad thing. Just think of what’s out there.

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

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11 rad YA books coming out in January/February 2017

january and february 2017 YA reads via paper trail diary

2016 isn’t quite dead yet, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from grasping at any kind of good that will come in the new year. If the 2017 books I’ve read so far are any indication, at least YA novels are in for some good shelf and mind space. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming out, especially when there is so much discussion happening in the community now about race/diversity, queer stories like more bi voices, etc. So I want to give you guys a little taste of some books that are coming out in January and February for you to use all your holiday gift cards on – just say, hey, these books are making me feel a little bit better about the world!

Under Rose Tainted Skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (out January 3)

I’m so pleased that I’ve had the pleasure of reading this already, though I’m already hoping I can read it again soon! For fans of Everything, Everything and Finding AudreyUnder Rose-Tainted Skies takes a fascinating look at OCD and anxiety that I felt sounded genuine and from an interesting perspective. Norah’s OCD/agoraphobia keeps her trapped in her home, she can’t even reach outside for groceries on the porch without distress. She’ll crumble to the ground if she’s taken outside to go to therapy. But then there’s the boy next door, pop-punk sweetheart Luke, who just moved in and instantly was drawn to Norah when he saw her through the window. Besides enjoying how cute their crushes on each other are, I was so interested in Norah’s account of what goes through her mind. Louise Gornall’s writing shoves you right into it. I felt like I learned more about OCD from this book, which I really appreciate. To see so closely how the walls of your mind can keep you between physical walls, to recognize triggers, to see how it affects relationships, it’s all great. Stay tuned for a longer post on the book from me soon!

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (out February 28)

Angie Thomas’ Black Lives Matter-inspired novel is so hyped up right now, and rightfully so. I plan on reading it soon! Starr is stuck between the poor neighbourhood in which she was raised and the posh suburb where she attends high school. The two settings of her life don’t fit together, and it becomes even more of a danger to Starr when she witnesses her best friend, unarmed, killed by a police officer. This novel will be a welcomed powerful force in the YA community, and I hope will inspire discussions and more books that will further raise awareness of the horrible injustice against black people and how much of an impact it makes on younger people. And the movie rights have already been acquired, with Amandla Stenberg in the starr-ing role!


A Season of Daring Greatly

A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White (out February 14)

If you guys are as hooked on the tv show Pitch as I am, and are itching for more, you are in for a treat with A Season of Daring Greatly. Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty, her high school’s star pitcher, has become the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. As expected, though talented and deserving of being there, Jill faces the opinion that baseball should be an all-male sport, and has to take on the role of defying conventions. Even though she has support from coaches and some teammates, she’s still trailed by the media and touted as a big role model for young women, all the while struggling with being away from home for the first time and unsure of the direction her life has taken. Now is the perfect time to read this too to get us through this dark non-baseball patch!

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (out January 3)

Hawthorn doesn’t like herself very much. As a loner who pushes away her friend (yeah, singular), she doesn’t understand why everyone is so upset when her school’s former prom queen, Lizzie Lovett, goes missing. But as she tries to figure out the public’s woe, she falls fast into her own fascination with Lizzie, ending up taking Lizzie’s job at a diner and hanging out with her boyfriend, Enzo. Hawthorn and Enzo are both lonely and sad, and end up depending on each other in unhealthy ways. Plus, Hawthorn’s convinced herself that Lizzie is actually a werewolf. I’ll share more when I’m part of the blog tour for the book in a couple weeks!


Life in a Fishbowl

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (out January 3)

I read this book this past weekend, and let me tell you, it is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in quite a while! At times it seems so dark for YA, but then I think about The Hunger Games, and I’m like okay, pretty much everything goes. There is so much packed into this novel, but it kept me hooked all the way through. Fifteen-year-old Jackie’s father realizes he has a brain tumor, with only a few months left to live. In his panic about how his family will survive without him, he decides to auction off his life on eBay. And that’s just the start of the bonkers story. You meet the people who are interested in bidding on his life (and boy are they characters), and you even read from the point of the tumor. The winning bid ends up being a television executive, who gets Jared to agree to signing his life away to a reality show. With cameras installed all over the house, quiet Jackie is trapped, with no way to really communicate with her family, all while watching her father wither away. She has to find a way to fight back. I told you it was dark! I really recommend it!

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (out February 7)

I love a good YA book about mental health, so I hope that I’ll love A Tragic Kind of Wonderful! Sixteen-year-old Mel is diagnosed bi-polar, which makes her life pretty unpredictable. Even though she’s falling into a new relationship, she still feels like she needs to keep everyone at arm’s length away from her. And when a former friend confirms why their friendship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and make things even worse. Mel fears that her friends will abandon her if they learn what she’s hiding. I’ll be reading this one soon so I’ll keep you guys updated! It definitely sounds intriguing.


Love and First Sight

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (out January 3)

I just finished this book, and I adored it!! It was so innocent, sweet, funny, and raw. Will has grown up blind. He’s never seen anything. It hasn’t exactly been a blast, but he’s smart and able to get by. When he switches to a public high school from a boarding school for blind kids in order to gain some real life experience, he doesn’t expect to make new friends so suddenly, and to find someone who could teach him so much about sight. That someone is Cecily, and Will is drawn to her beautiful voice and love of photography. They develop a lovely friendship, while not admitting they like each other. But everything could change when Will gets a surgery that can give him eyesight. Turns out Cecily’s been hiding something… I will post more about this book soon, but I really, really suggest picking it up!

History is All You Left Me

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (out January 17)

This one sounds like quite the emotional read! When Griffin finds out his first love, his ex, Theo, has drowned, his life is turned upside down. Griffin’s always believed that they would find each other again. And the only one who understands is Jackson, who was Theo’s current boyfriend. But Griffin’s grief and secrets of the past tears him apart, sending him into a downward spiral of submitting to obsessive compulsions and destructive actions. If he wants to move forward, he has to confront his past. This one is my next read, so I’ll share more thoughts soon!


To Catch a Killer

To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough (out February 7)

Erin Blake’s name is forever going to be tied to a horrible crime. As a toddler, she survived three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case remains unsolved. Though she’s grown up a relatively normal life under the care of her mother’s best friend, Erin once again finds herself in tragedy when she discovers the body of her murdered biology teacher. She doesn’t voice it, but Erin secretly suspects the two homicides are linked, and inspired by her FBI agent uncle, she decides to dive into the investigation herself. But as she comes closer to evidence, somehow the authorities are pointed towards her, and she must figure out what’s happening before it’s too late. This book sounds so dark and along the lines of the grip lit craze, and I’m really excited to read it!

Our Own Private Universe

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (out January 31)

Fifteen-year-old Aki knows that she’s bisexual, but up until now has only dated guys. But when she goes on a month-long youth group mission to a small town in Mexico, a girl named Christa catches Aki’s attention. There isn’t much more information on this book out yet, but I’m interested in reading more! I expect it will contribute to the recent discussions of bisexuality that were sparked by Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue, which will be out later in the year. I say keep that momentum going! It’s important to show teens that being bisexual is more than okay.


Rebels Like Us

Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt (out February 28)

I think this book will perk up a lot of people’s ears. Nes has always been a city girl, living comfortably in Brooklyn. But when her mother ends a relationship and moves them to a small Southern town, Nes’ life throws her many changes. Besides being homesick and heartbroken of a boy left behind, Nes finds herself pitted against her new school’s reigning belle and the principal. Good start! And when she starts to fall for ‘the golden boy’ named Doyle, she discovers that her town is actually pretty racist. In fact, her high school holds two proms… a white prom, and a black prom. Nes and Doyle start a group to run an alternative prom, but when the hate crimes start, Nes realizes the danger she’s in and what it takes to stand up for something so important.

So much goodness coming out in just two months!! That’s only the beginning of 2017! What are you guys excited to read next year?

This entry was posted in Books.

My top books of 2016

paper trail diary best of books 2016

Ahh, here we are, at the long-awaited (by me) best-of list! Because I am a huge nerd, I have been thinking about this list since I made my 2015 list. And you better believe I’ve already got a title or two reserved for my 2017 list. I’ve known of a few titles that would be on this list since early in the year, but a lot of them didn’t come until the last few months. It’s been hard assigning numbers to them, which is kind of meaningless, but I’ll do it anyway. I feel like a lot of them could change depending what mood I’m in, but isn’t that life? *strokes chin*

One thing I’m really proud of is that I set my goal to be 40 books this year, and I’ve read 70. I was hoping to make it 80 by the end of the year, but that’s not going to happen 😉 This is still the most books I’ve ever read in a year (at least as an adult). Some reasons for my numbers increasing beyond expectations: The Georgia Nicolson Readalong, being a book blogger and receiving a load of books and wanting to read them all, starting an internship at a publishing company which inspired me to read even more, and being unemployed for a few months, which has given me some more time to read!

Oh, on that note — good news! I got a job! Starting in the new year, I will be the Marketing Coordinator for Playwrights Canada Press, a small press that publishes fantastic new Canadian play scripts. If you’re interested in blogging about that kind of book, let me know 🙂 I am so happy about this, I’ve been wanting to work in publishing for a long time, so my relief and excitement for a fresh start in 2017 is almost unbearable :p Plus, I’ll get to keep blogging about all these kinds of books, but you’ll probably hear about some cool plays 🙂

Back to the list. When I was going over the 70 read books to decide which would be my top 10, I realized there were maybe about 15 that I would even consider for the list. Which doesn’t seem like great news to me. Every once in a while I’ll go back and look at my previous lists, and realize I’ve even forgotten about some of the books. It just reinforces me actively trying to read books that really affect me, and to put down books that aren’t making much of an impression. There were plenty of books I liked but I would never be interested in reading again, you know? Hopefully I’ll have more book love in 2017!

There were also some books I read this year, that if they had been released in 2016, they definitely would be on the list. Those books are Me Before You, Room, and Every Day. I absolutely adored those books.

So, here we go. My top 2016 books that came out in 2016!

female of the species paper trail diary

1. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

To say this book has left an impact would be a simple statement. It made me hold back tears, it made me sick to my stomach, it made me want to tell everyone about it. With such complex, confusing, yet endearing characters, who are thrown into really tough but realistic events, The Female of the Species has set itself as one of the most important books in the young adult genre about rape culture. Read my full review here.

the museum of heartbreak paper trail diary

2. The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

Hands down, this is the cutest book I read all year. I loved Penelope, I wanted to hug her as if she was my little sister, but also I saw a lot of myself in her. Also, Eph makes for a great ‘book boyfriend.’ (Though saying that makes me feel kind of gross.) This book just made me feel so warm and giddy, and made clear to me one of the reasons why I love young adult books so much: because I think back on my high school years as misguided and boring, I like to live vicariously through them. Read my full review here.

gena/finn via paper trail diary

3. Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

I look back on this book fondly, as I know that it gave me heart eye emoji face, internal squeals, and tears. I adored the relationship between Gena and Finn, the way they communicated (the book is in the style of emails, texts, etc), and everything they became. I seriously want to re-read it soon, though I know I’d still be wishing for a sequel! This does make me look forward to reading the spring title Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, which is in a similar nature of girl/girl relationships through fandom. Anyways, *squee*! Read my full review here.

girl mans up paper trail diary

4. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

This is one of those kinds of books that I’ve been talking about for months. (M-E, you’re probably so sick of me by now.) It just has everything going for it, and it’s an incredible debut for an author who has so much more to give. (Excited!!) Pen embodies what it’s like to know the direction you want to go in, but feel hindered and judged by those who are close to you. It’s queer, Canadian, edgy, and so passionate. Adore. Read my full review here.

witches of new york paper trail diary

5. The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

Welcome to my most recent book hangover. I finished this weeks ago, but I’m still sad it’s over. The Witches of New York is not the typical kind of book I’d read in the simple facts of it’s historical fiction and it’s a bigger book (I have this thing about being daunted by bigger books because they’ll take longer to read). I am SOOO glad I read it though. I didn’t want it to end! I was so comfortable wading into this world. It’s about three witches in the 1800s in New York City – the youngest one arrives to the tea shop the others own and starts to see ghosts. A lot of the book is just purely the characters and their world, but things do go down when the girl suddenly disappears. I want more!! I loved how witchy and feminist it all was, the quirks and qualities of the three women, and just learning more about how witches were perceived back then. I definitely want to go read Ami McKay’s other titles now. *Swoon*

replica paper trail diary

6. Replica by Lauren Oliver

Replica might be the most fun book I read this year! It’s kind of a play on choose-your-own-adventure, in that you pick how you read this dual-sided book, which cleverly makes you really think about the story more. I am so excited for the sequel, which should be out next year. It’s told through two characters – Lyra and Gemma – one knows she’s a clone that has grown up in a mysterious research facility, and the other has until now, led a safe but boring life, until she decides to try to figure out why her parents are somehow connected to the facility. As soon as the two meet, the story ramps into gear and runs with it, and you’ll be running right along side of it. Read my full review here.

cursed child paper trail diary

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

It feels weird to have a Harry Potter title not be the #1 on my list, but here we are. I just don’t assimilate this script to be on the same level as the seven novels, however, I did really like it. What made me absolutely love it was seeing it in person, which I know was very privileged for me. I can tell you that what seems dry in a script comes across as magical on stage, because so much lies in the directing and acting. I thought the way the story went was clever and kind of like fan-fiction, and it was interesting to see how it all wove together to play out. Read my post about seeing the play here.

the best kind of people paper trail diary

8. The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

This is one of those kinds of books that has the power to destroy you. It’s the Indigo Heather’s Pick of the year, a huge Canadian title for 2016, which was nominated for the Giller Prize (and was the one I was really rooting for). A story of a teacher accused of sexually assaulting his young students is not exactly unique to the public, when real life stories like this happen all the time. What was so special and interesting about this book was that it wasn’t really about him, it was about what happens to his family after he is accused. The wife, who can’t escape the public’s ‘wouldn’t she have known this was going on?’ opinions and doesn’t know what to do with herself now that she’s alone. The daughter, who is pulled in different directions, is confused, and knows there’s a possibility what happened with her father was true. The son, who refuses to believe the worst, but in that, alienates those around him. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking. You come to care for the characters, and wish them the best, but know that nothing can ever be easy for them again. I highly recommend!

the thousandth floor via paper trail diary

9. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGhee

I won’t forget how this book left me shaking. My heart racing, my eyes bulging. It starts and ends with someone falling off the tallest building, an epic thousandth-floored sky scraper above Central Park in NYC. It’s in the future, and focuses on six high school graduates as they navigate their floors of privilege and poverty. It’s ridiculously dramatic and kind of weird, and very comparable to Gossip Girl, which isn’t something I’ve touched since my teen years, but I really enjoyed reading this. This is definitely the start of a series that I will keep reading. Read my five reasons why you need to read The Thousandth Floor here.

shrill lindy west via paper trail diary

10. Shrill by Lindy West

If you’re not reading Lindy West’s articles on sites such as The Guardian, you should be. Lindy is real, blatantly honest, and a pure treasure. Whether she’s writing about being plus size, getting an abortion, politics, or rape jokes, you know what you’re getting is going to be good. She makes you think about things in a way you may not have yet, and even if it’s dark, she can find a way to make it comfortable. This is the kind of book of essays that you can read all at once or pick up and put it down and pick it up again. Lindy will be there for you. And good news, it’s being optioned for television! I have no idea how that’s going to be adapted, but it’s something to look forward to! Read my full review here.


Looking back at the list, I realize that it’s not very diverse, besides 9 of the 10 titles being written by women. (I actually rarely read books by men these days.) There are only two main characters of colour (and one of them is in a book of 5 main characters, The Thousandth Floor). Four titles have queer main characters. (And again, one is from The Thousandth Floor.) Though there were books with these kinds of characters that didn’t make my top 10, there weren’t enough. I will definitely make reading diverse books more of a priority in the new year. Check out this great resource, a list of diverse books to read in 2017!

Other random observations about my 70 read titles… I read eight titles that were the first in a series. I don’t think in the past I have read many series, and only a few of these I’ll continue the series with, but I thought that was kind of interesting. Six titles were non-fiction or autobiographical. 44 books out of 70 were young adult. Seven were grip-lit or suspenseful. I could keep going but I think I’m the only one interested in this! I like to keep my trends in check so that I can set new goals for the next year.

Now, to books that I’m really excited about in 2017. I’ll have upcoming posts that go by months, but I can say that on them, some of the titles will be: The Upside of UnrequitedThe Hate U GiveAlways and Forever Lara Jean, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, and When Dimple Met Rishi. (!!!)

Thanks for reading along with me this year! I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these books if you read them, and what you chose for your favourites this year! Here’s to great reading in 2017.

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Book Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

holding up the universe via paper trail diary

Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven, via Knopf Books, out now.

“Do you ever wonder if it’s everyone else who sees the world differently? Like maybe you see people the way they’re supposed to be seen?”

I have a lot of feelings about Holding Up the Universe. The first time I heard about it was when the news was announced, and the original copy on the Goodreads page was fairly upsetting, in that it read like ‘hey, this is a book about a love story between a girl who was so fat that she had to be lifted out of her house by a crane and a boy who is sick by not being able to recognize faces.’ It was off-putting, because to me, a sensitive somewhat overweight gal, that translated to ‘the only person who could love a fat girl is someone who doesn’t recognize her.’ But because All the Bright Places was my favourite book of 2015, I was reserving judgement until I read this one.

Yes, Holding Up the Universe is about a girl (Libby) who was once so overweight she needed a crane to be taken out of her house. Here’s the context: she gained a lot of weight when her mother passed away, and she lost control of her world. Now she’s lost a lot of weight and is fairly confident, strong, and comfortable, but she’s aware of how those around her aren’t accepting of her body. Yes, Holding Up the Universe is about a boy (Jack) who cannot recognize faces, and he does mainly recognize Libby because of her size, and he does keep his prosopagnosia a secret. He is a genuinely sweet person who needs to learn a lesson or two about being okay with himself and that it’s okay to tell others about his disability. He causes a lot of problems for himself because he won’t talk about what’s happening to him. The two meet in an odd way at school, and end up in a group therapy class together, and eventually fall for each other, with plenty of high school drama in between.

“Listen, I may be keeping the face blindness a secret for now, but that doesn’t mean I want everything in my life to be a secret. It doesn’t mean I want to keep you a secret. I would never hide you away, if that’s what you’re thinking.” As I say it, I ask myself, Is that what I’m doing?

Jennifer Niven wrote Holding Up the Universe as a response to everyone who wrote to her after All the Bright Places, which dealt with severe mental illness. Her individual responses had been ‘You are wanted. You are necessary. You are loved.’ She wrote that a lot of times. So a story blossomed, which took parts from her adolescence when she was struggling with weight and grieving her father, from her recent grieving for her mother, and from her sixteen-year-old cousin who doesn’t recognize faces. She wanted Holding Up the Universe to be like a letter to all the teens who wrote to her, doubting their place in the world, and the messengers for that story took form in Libby and Jack. I do respect that Jennifer did a story that way and is so open about the origins. And I would love to read more about how specifically teens have reacted to the book.

I read the first half of the book very sensitively. I was so nervous about how the characters would come across – mostly how being overweight would be portrayed – that it definitely stuck to how I think about the book. Some things could be a bit triggering, or so upsetting that I’d question if things, like Fat Girl Rodeo – in which a boy runs up to a fat girl and jumps on her and has to hold on for as long as possible – actually exist. If so, that’s so awful. In my teenage years, I don’t recall anything like that ever happening, just mostly people saying hurtful things out loud or online. But I know of others who have reacted differently than me, comforted to see their own struggles rather than thinking the portrayal of a character might be wrong, so that makes me feel good. There is a point in the book where it’s obvious (once you know the author’s motive) how the tone changes, and you’ll spend the rest of the book squeeing at cute moments. By the end of it, I didn’t really have any problems with the situation, although was it necessary to make her so big she had to be lifted out by a crane? I can see how that would be used as an excuse for her being absent from school from so long and for dealing with trauma, but is that not a little extreme?

I did really like Libby and Jack as characters. I loved how Libby portrayed her confidence (even though sometimes it was used as a shield) and that she was up front about her sexuality (fat girls have sex too!). I liked Jack for his voice as I was there to see him learn how to navigate the world around him. I could have done without half of his mentions about prosopagnosia – a lot of times it was like ‘yes, I get that you have that, you don’t have to tell me again,’ especially when it was about his family members. We understand right away that he can’t recognize his family members, and is paranoid that people could play tricks on him, but 99% of the time if you walk into your brother’s room, you know that guy is going to be your brother, right? And there was not one mention about if he could recognize voices, which I figured would be a big sense that would take over, but that’s just my guess.

Overall, I did like the story and the motive behind it, but I did not love it or connect with it as much as I’d hoped, especially after All the Bright Places. I am not a teen that’s looking for that message, so there’s that. And I hold ATBP up in high regard, so it’d be hard to come close anyway. I will remember that I read it with hesitation (which is simply a personal reaction), but I will also remember how well Jennifer writes characters and her romantic writing style. How much I ended up loving Libby. I’m looking forward to what Jennifer comes up with next!

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

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