It seems the doors of the Bibliotaphe Closet have been shut for about a month without much of an explanation from me. That’s what happens when you lose your keys, or in my case, a handle on a reading and writing schedule that worked quite effectively until I unexpectedly picked up a new obsession—pretty stationery, washi tape, mail art, snail mail, and penning letters.
After I agreed to an interview and feature on the Penpal of the Week website as well as having won a free three-month membership to the League of Extraordinary Penpals (LEP), a warm and active online community; I have quickly transformed from an occasional letter-writing penpal to approximately three correspondents to a fully engaged writer and snail mail addict who has unbelievably gained the interest of 50+ penpals within Canada, the U.S.A., and around the world.
Translation —> You will most likely find me in a paper craft store running for the bins that carry a myriad of pretty stationery sets, peony notecards and notebooks, a slew of rubber stamps, kawaii stickers, and an uncertain amount of decorative washi tape, sticky notes, and planner inserts.
I have gone so far as to:
create my own envelopes and postcards
renovate my study into a small craft room that now stores all my snail mail and mail art supplies
install hooks into the wall to display my washi tape
create my own midori planners and journals based on a number of YouTube instructional videos
buy my own digital shipping scale to weigh my mail packages by the gram
memorize postage rates by domestic, US, and international locations
bribe “Santa” for a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen with a fine nib
visit my mailbox on a strict rotation of three hours to check for incoming deliveries
and carry my mail, blank stationery, and pens with me everywhere I go just in case I have time to pen a letter
That said, books and reading are still very much on my priority list. One does not usually forget their first love. But, as people grow, interests, too, tend to expand and develop (at least that’s what I tell myself since books have been left on the shelf).
With that in mind, I also hope to post stories about snail mail, mail art, and paper crafts on this blog. I may even have to consider revamping my blog’s site name, but I haven’t decided yet.
But, for starters, I encourage readers to set realistic reading goals for the year. This can be easily done through the HarperCollins of Canada 50 Book Pledge Program online, which acts as a database and personal tracker for a large reading community through a “To Be Read,” “Read,” and “Wish List” bookshelves.
As a preview, the first few books I look forward to reading and reviewing in 2015 are:
Alphabetique by Molly Peacock
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Little White Lies by Katie Dale
The Jaguar’s Children by John Valliant
If I Fall, I Die by Michael Christie
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
While I suspected there would be time during the holidays to read, write, and even pen letters, there was instead a perpetual food binge and all forms of lively procrastination.
The New Year rolled itself in and just last week I celebrated my 40th—cough—birthday! (But, more on that in another post.)
Regardless, now that it’s 2015, I’m happy to reconsider some new personal goals and resolutions, as well as give The Bibliotaphe Closeta contextual renovation and a clean, fresh start.
Here’s to more reading—and writing in the New Year!
“My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.”
So begins this remarkable novel by Amy Bloom, whose critically acclaimed Away was called “a literary triumph” (The New York Times). Lucky Us is a brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny novel of love, heartbreak, and luck.
Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.
With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, a group of unforgettable people love, lie, cheat and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.
- From Chapters-Indigo website
Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet:
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom is a modern telling of two very different sisters from the 1940’s who must reconcile their fate with each other and the consequential hardships they encounter right from childhood into their adulthood.
It is the story of Eva Logan-Actonand her half-sister, Iris.The two who are thrown together at the loss of both their mothers, one through death, the other through abandonment, left open to the neglect and betrayal of their biological father, Edgar.
Not only is there a dichotomy between the two sisters in look, but also in temperament, the two in their personal failings, somehow find ways to survive poverty, manipulation, and loss.
Though the plot lends itself to the absurd, it’s the characters’ dilemmas and persevering spirit that makes this book at the very least an entertaining read. Is it realistic? No, not really, but it is possible and lures the reader into turning each page with interest.
The heart of the novel is wound in the realism of its characters’—especially the main characters’ personalities. Iris, the drama queen is both self-indulgent as she is tough-skinned, a survivor, and an emotional manipulator, but would be lost without her grounded sister, Eva,to anchor her down emotionally throughout the book.
Eva,self-sacrificial to the point of semi-martyrdom, while formally uneducated, finds ways in which she can survive the drama of her sister, the inconsistency and eventual illness of her father, and the short- term charity of her friend, Francisco’s sistersin the beauty salon where she dutifully sweeps floors and washes sinks. She teaches herself how to read, memorizes her father’s Little Blue Books for abridged versions of knowledge and sometimes useful or non-useful facts, and learns not only how to read Tarot cards, but how to best advise customers with news that encourages them and encourages them to return to the salon for her most-often positive advice.
But Iris and Evaare not the only characters in the novel with unique personalities and circumstances. There is Edgar,whose love for Clara,a jazz singer and closeted albino who cannot redeem him from the mistakes he’s committed in the past, nor the disease he must face in the near future; Francisco, a gay makeup artist and friend-turned-father-figure; Reenie, Iris’ focus of love and borderline obsession; Gus, the ousted husband whose relation to Reenieplaces him in an unbelievable and life-threatening circumstance; and Danny, the stolen orphan made to seduce and fulfill a gap in a grieving woman’s life.
Together the story unfolds into a highly unlikely plot that still seduces the reader enough to not only continue reading, but also empathize with the characters and their sentimental failings. Somehow the absurdity of the plot doesn’t deter the individuals from eventually finding some form of love and solace, and even a self-imposed, redefinition of family.
Lucky Usfeels like a somewhat sarcastic title, but is able to self-prophesy on the story’s behalf by the time the novel ends. I’m just not quite sure who the title is referring to exactly—the characters themselves or the readers who get to witness a highly tumultuous story unravel itself into some form of success or the readers who are lucky enough not to suffer the same type of consequences as the characters that find redemption in their own answers?
Amy Bloom does a good job of creating interesting enough characters that will urge its readers to turn the page and come away from the story with more than an afterthought, but a sense that the injustices of the world still have a purpose even if they insist on sometimes remaining unclear.
A special thanks to Random House of Canadafor providing me with a copy of Lucky Us in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Amy Bloom is the author of Come to Me, a National Book Award finalist; A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Love Invents Us; Normal; Away, a New York Times bestseller; and Where the God of Love Hangs Out. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon, among other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. She teaches creative writing at Wesleyan University.
What do you think is the best thing about having a sister? What do you think is the worst?
How far would you go on getting what you want? Lies? Murder?
For stationery and kawaii enthusiasts, you’ll be glad to know that I made a wonderful discovery during my visit to Kingston, Ontario for the Thanksgiving long weekend holiday last week.
While visiting the artsy core of downtown Kingston, I accidentally came across an independently-owned stationery-and-kawaii-filled shop called, Midori. I would have passed right by it if I didn’t see the painted sign outside, which said stationery in elegant, cursive print. Thankfully, I noticed it enough to stop mid-step before heading toward the nearest Starbucks Coffee shop.
Once inside, I was transported into a wonderful, little room painted in pastels featuring a variety of kawaii products imported from China, Korea, and Japan that included stuffed, plush toys, jewellery, mugs, bento boxes, handbags, and loads of notebooks, paper stationery, postcards, and pens.
I chatted with Midori’s owner and proprietor, Tina Yan,who opened the store in October of last year (2013) and discovered that not only do we share the same birthday month, but that we’re equally enthusiastic about kawaii products!
Canadian-born with cultural roots from China, Tina, thought it was important to bring popular kawaii goods from Asian countries to provide Canadian customers with products solely created and distributed in South Asian countries—which suits me perfectly fine since I don’t see the possibility of travelling to South Asia any time soon. How else will I deal with my stationery and kawaii addiction?
While chatting with Tina about the possibility of featuring her and her shop on my blog, she was kind enough to allow me to take a number of photographs in her store while I searched for items that I might purchase. Here are some of the wonderful kawaii items I found in her shop:
I was so pleased with this little shop, I returned twice in one day and bought the following, cute products to use for my own, personal writing and snail mail:
These pretty 4″x5.5″ notebooks from the My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & BeautyGirlline created by languo is simply exquisite. I was drawn to the art cover designs, which features a different girl in each portrait. Inside, the paper is brown, blank, and consists of 24 pages.
My only regret about the design is that there is no Asian girl with black hair on a cover. Surely, a Beauty Girl would also come from Asia, right?
While I’m excited about my purchase, these notebooks seem far too pretty for me to use right away. I have yet to decide what to write in them! In the meantime, they will sit at my desk on display.
After testing a number of pens in stock at Midori,I decided on buying the light blue, gel-ink pen with the bear cap, 0.38mm fine point, with “love dolls every day” printed on its casing; the Fihfio floral print, gel-ink pen with a cap that says, “Your happy story;” and my favourite of the three, the BCO black, ink gel pen with the sad ghost cap, 0.4mm fine point. It runs quite smoothly with a dark imprint and is the current pen I use to write all my snail mail letters.
These London photograph postcards came in a set of 18. The photographs are not only lovely renditions of London’s famous city, but the paper itself is slightly glossy with an embossed texture, which give them a far more realistic feel than other glossed postcards and reprints.
For 18 postcards of good photographs for the low price of $3.50 CAD per set, you simply can’t lose, which is why when I return I’ll be buying a few more packages!
The “Got a Mail” pink agenda is not only blank, but provides the user with both a monthly and weekly date format. While the user must fill in dates for himself/herself, numbers are listed at the top margin to provide for accuracy and a little help.
At the back of the agenda is a number of blank pages for notes and includes a few cards and stickers for decoration.
The front cover also allows the user to change its design with the cards included.
I can’t wait to start using this agenda/diary in the new year.
While this notebook does not match the My Fairy Tale World series, I could not resist the adorable Cooky character with her squinted, smiling eyes and huge red hood.
She reminds me of an Asian version of the Little Red Riding Hood character. Just look at her sitting in her suitcase!
I snatched this notebook at the recommendation of Tina who also thinks Cooky is adorable.
The paper inside is white, lined, and contains 46 pages.
Because its titled, “Travel Story,” I plan on saving this little notebook for my travels.
After leaving Kingston, Ontario, I visited the Pacific Mall in Markham, a mall that specializes in Asian-imported goods and products. It was the first time I visited in over 10 years and was ecstatic to find a few more kawaii goodies.
This is what I brought home:
The Pucca wallet is bright red in colour, which symbolizes good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture. The Kanji symbol means love. It also comes with a removable coin purse with Kanji print, five cardholders, one identification holder, and a long pocket for cash.
At first I thought these cute kawaii strips were washi tape, but when I inquired about them I was told that the strips are meant for paper crafts like the creation of small origami stars.
Because I’m attracted to small figurines, paper crafts, and kawaii, I quickly bought four packages. While I won’t use every strip to make paper stars, I do plan on adding a little glue at the back to decorate a few of my snail mail envelopes.
Because I’m partial to cute bunnies, my favourite one is the one with the Molang bunny.
This little kawaii doll drew me right in with her bright, curly, green hair. Instead of attaching her to my mobile phone, I put her on my key ring instead. I’ve named her Kiyoko, which means child of happy generations in Japanese. I trust we’ll be very happy together for “generations” to come.
Aside for the cute kawaii bottle, this Pocket Bunny Sleek Mist helps to control the breakout of oily skin. Instead of powder to mattefy skin, this spritz can be used any time of the day. It smells good, too!
The Tony Moly Strawberry Lipgloss line is light and sheer and its price point high most likely because of its marketable packaging.
I really couldn’t care less about the actual lipgloss (though I had my eye on the deep pink and coral colours), but I absolutely adore the lipgloss strawberry doll caps.
It comes in coral, pink, light, pink, and a nude cream.
I pucker up every time I look at these!
The trip was well worth it with a number of unexpected kawaii finds. I hope to be able to travel again next month and pick up some more stationery and kawaii goodies. Which ones would you buy?
Do you like kawaii? What do you like most about it?
Of all the items featured above, which one(s) do you like the most?
What’s your favourite kawaii item that you own?
Where do you find or shop for your kawaii items? (Feel free to share links to websites.)
If you were a kawaii character, what character would you be?
In previous years, Thanksgiving was a time to anticipate a tabletop filled with a traditional feast: turkey as its centrepiece, mashed potato with cranberry sauce, roasted, buttered corn, thick lasagna, a creamy potato salad, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, a little wine, and rich coffee with dessert.
But, the price to pay? A day or two in the kitchen, a potentially aggravating sit-in dinner with a few abrasive, tactless family members who are always compelled to criticize either your job, your spouse, your children, your looks, or your lack of any, and a bloated gut or terrible hangover from a few hours of enjoyable gluttony.
Thankfully, that did not happen this year.
This year, my husband and I, and our two children, rented a car for a few days, packed our bags, and travelled to Kingston, Ontario, to spend our Thanksgiving weekend with my father-in-law and mother-in-law, who we haven’t seen in a long time with our last visit to them over four years ago.
On our way, we stopped at Fairview Mall for an emergency bathroom break and happily discovered a LEGO store for the first time. My eldest son, Michael, a 10-year-old boy passionately obsessed with LEGO had a spaz attack! We spent a good half hour in the store checking out the latest box sets, admiring the coloured LEGO wall at the back, and building our own customized mini-figures.
Together, we built three customized mini-figures for purchase, one meant to be a replica of my son with his medicine pouch and a weapon of choice to battle the “zombies” of the future Zombie Apocalypse; a Fairy Pie Godmother who brings pie to all LEGO-loving children of the world; and Gardenia, an avid reader, writer, and gardener:
The car ride was loud and enjoyable except for the traffic we were unfortunate enough to get stuck in while on the 401. Still, we gladly took the opportunity to stop at a service station at Trenton to have lunch before arriving to Kingston.
Once there, it was not only a relief to finally arrive, but to see my in-laws after so many years. There were happy tears, hugs, and a thoughtful dinner waiting for us.
While I was originally nervous about visiting them in respect to not seeing them in a number of years, but also because of the language barrier, once we arrived, their gracious hospitality and love made it so much easier to settle in—and stay.
We stayed for three days and two nights!
Each day was an opportunity for us to relax in our pyjamas, talk—really talk—and laugh, and ultimately spend quality time together as a family, which I found touching and rejuvenating.
The wonderful gift of my father-in-law and mother-in-law is not only their strong, personal faith, but how their faith is alive and active in their lives. Papá, who is a retired pastor, does more than spend his time preaching empty words without consequence or validation. His advice is not only usually faith-based, but sound because he is a living testament of what he believes in. Mamá, too, lives out her faith by action, not simply words. To have spent time with them even for a little while was to be a part of God’s loving grace.
It is so refreshing to be a part of such an open and loving family.
On the one hand, Mamá and Papá, have very little financially. They don’t desire a large home, nor a luxury car of which to boast about to friends and family. They travel about once or twice a year to El Salvador, not for a vacation for themselves, but rather an opportunity to give to the poor and needy while there. And they feel no compulsion to own “bigger and better,” worldly things. They live quite simply and are always content with what they have. But, it isn’t because they can’t afford a lavish lifestyle—it’s because their mindset does not focus on the importance of materialism as one of their priorities.
And yet, they have so much of themselves to give emotionally. They are open and direct, but without the need to be condescending, critical, or controlling. While they want what’s best for their son, me, and their grandchildren, they always speak and act with love, kindness, and understanding.
We did not have a giant turkey for Thanksgiving or a lavish feast of any kind. Instead, we ate homemade soup with beef and vegetables, pupusas (a Salvadorean dish made of masa flour and mozzarella cheese with cortido, a cabbage, carrot, vinaigrette topping), mashed red bean, Salvadorean cheese, fried plantain with cream, and coffee and tea biscuits for dessert.
I spent some of my time braiding Mamá’s hair while the kids enjoyed running around the small apartment, and my husband helped Papá with the installation of Spanish accent shortcuts onto his computer/keyboard.
We also had the opportunity to see my brother-in-law, Eli, and visit his new home in Kingston. The kids took such a liking to his jokes and playfulness that they want to sleep over at his house next time we visit!
Aside from family time, I was also able to visit the artsy core of downtown Kingston. I discovered a nice, little bookstore called, A Novel Idea,where I picked up a Montreal Book Review publication, some Kingston Writers’ promotional cards, a few bookmarks, Kingston Art buttons, and some postcards.
All in all, it was a much-needed getaway from the city, an opportunity to enjoy a long car ride and the autumn sights, to spend some quality time with my husband’s family, and to also get some stationery shopping done, as well as some letter writing to a number of my penpals.
This year, Thanksgiving was so much more than about eating turkey. It was as it’s meant to be, a time for thoughtful reflection and a time for giving sincere thanks for family, friends, good food, great company, and the love and grace of God and His many blessings.
Whatever faith you may have or however differently you may celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration this past weekend! While I need not worry about a turkey gut, I’ve had my fill of other delicious foods and time well spent.
How do you usually spend Thanksgiving?
What was most memorable about your Thanksgiving celebration this year?
If you could so something differently for next year, what would you like to do?
Today is an important day for those who actively belong and participate in the Canadian literary world, especially for those who submitted their work for consideration of the highly coveted and prestigious literary prize for Canadian fiction—The Scotiabank Giller Prize—especially this year.
With an increase to the financial winnings—yes, a whopping $100,000 instead of last year’s $50,000—authors this year are vying for double the money through the prize that Jack Rabinovitch created in 1994 to honour his late wife, literary editor, Doris Giller, which boasts the title of Canada’s top literary fiction prize.
Anyone who is anyone in the publishing world knows that if you make it onto the Giller Longlist, you’ve already won reputable standing — one of distinction and one of opportunity.
But, to snag a spot on the Shortlist is to bid for the biggest accolade and jackpot in Canadian fiction. Canadian stories aren’t just stories anymore, but a testament to Canada’s cultural voice through literature. What it says is honoured each and every year, featuring some of Canada’s finest literary talent.
This year, Canadian author Shauna Singh Baldwin,British novelist Justin Cartwright, and American writer and critic Francine Prose,were the writers specifically chosen to sit on the Giller Prize jury, which had the difficult, but rewarding job of reading though a number of novel submissions—to first choose the Longlist that was announced in mid-September and then to cut the list down by half, which was announced today.
Here are the six finalists:
David Bezmozgis for his novel, The Betrayers,published by HarperCollins Canada:
Frances Itani for her book, Tell, published by HarperCollins Canada:
Sean Michaels for his novel, Us Conductors, published by Random House Canada:
Heather O’Neill for her novel, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, published by HarperCollins Canada:
Miriam Toews for her novel, All My Puny Sorrows, published by Knopf Canada:
Padma Viswanathan for her book, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, published by Random House Canada:
Congratulations to all the finalists!
The Scotiabank Giller Prize will air on CBC Television on Monday, Nov. 10 at 9 p.m.with host Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio’s Q.
Have you read any of the books that made it onto the Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist?
Did the books you were expecting to make it on the list actually make it?
Who do you think will win this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize?
If you were to win the Giller Prize, what would you do with $100,000?
My husband and I had planned to attend the annual Word on the Street festival in Toronto on September 21 for months since our successful visits since a few years ago. And then of course, closer to the date, we heard the disappointing news of rain and thunder showers, which literally put a “damper” on our intentions to attend. So, after waking up really early with anticipation to leave, we heard the news, and then begrudgingly went back to sleep.
After a little nap, our five-year-old daughter woke us up saying, “Mama, I thought we’re going to Toronto?” That convinced me enough to reconsider. Why disappoint my only daughter? Why break a promise to her because of a little rain? So, my husband and I got up again and were determined to head on out regardless of the potentially bad weather.
In lieu of the poor weather reports we packed our umbrellas and practically ran to catch a GO bus to head to Union Station, at which point we walked to King subway, only to turn back due to the sales booth being closed. The great thing about the weekend in Toronto is the affordable TTC Family Pass,which allows two adults and up to four children to ride the TTC streetcar and subway all day.The unfortunate thing about the weekend in Toronto is its only time to perform construction and maintenance on the subway lines, which only means closures, detours, and delays for its commuters—yes, us.
Eventually, we routed ourselves onto a subway line headed north to College, at which point we needed to hop onto a streetcar to take us to Queen’s Park. We didn’t score the new TTC streetcars only launched a few weeks ago, but got a taste of the imminent crowd that is a Toronto pedestrian lifestyle.
Even though we were late, I was able to snag quite a bit of SWAG in the form of bookmarks, postcards, buttons, posters, stickers, temporary tattoos, and even a beach ball!
It was, however, a struggle to even get a peek at some of the books for sale at a number of tents because of the bibliotaphe mobs that surrounded these busy tables. But, because of my will, determination, and sheer girth, I was able to squeeze (and elbow) through some people to finally get near some titles.
My friends at HarperCollins Canada loaded their tent with a slew of titles, a hodge podge of genres, ready for the plucking at super-crazy, clearance prices: $3 for hardcovers and $2 for paperbacks! But, because the crowd was busy picking and pecking at books, I was only able to snag a few goodies:
Still, the trip was worth it since there is always a spot reserved entirely for young children and their families especially the huge stage performances by TVO Kids,which my children enjoyed.
Here are some of the highlights my little readers enjoyed at WOTS this year:
Other highlights included listening in to Claire Cameron speak about her book, “The Bear,” and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer on her beautifully written novel, “All the Broken Things.”
What a brilliant day for book lovers everywhere!
Hope to see you all next year!
Did you attend WOTS 2014 this year?
Which authors were you most excited about meeting?
If I was a kid, what would this year’s potential Giller Prize books look like? Based on the ones listed on the Crazy for CanLit Pinterest Board, these are what I would change the titles to if the books were for children—because I’m a kid like that. (You have my children to thank, for constantly coercing me to play Tag, Hide ‘n Seek, Rock, Paper & Scissors, and LEGO on a regular basis.)
Ready, kiddies? Let’s play!
How would you change some of the potential Giller Prize books’ titles if you were a kid?
Which is your favourite title change from the list I created above?
Thanks to Suzanneof the Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds & Dreams… blog I was able to finally articulate my latest obsession: all things known as kawaii—an adjective in Japanese, which means pretty, cute, lovely, charming, dear, darling, or pet and stems from the two kanji words “can love;” it’s the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture, and is commonly used to describe “cute” and “adorable” pieces of Japanese popular culture, clothing, food, toys, behaviour, and even personal appearance.
I have always been attracted to all things kawaiithough I was never aware there was an actual term to describe the quality of the things I loved. My best assumption was that the origin of what I really liked simply stemmed from a general, Asian influence. When I discovered the term, kawaii, a whole world of Japanese/Asian “cuteness” literally exploded before me and I soon realized that I wasn’t alone in my own desire to collect and share my love of kawaiigoodies. I soon discovered (and gladly so) that there is a large, devoted kawaii collective that is just as passionate as I am about this deeply embedded Asian context and style.
I kid you not, though most would presume that lovers of kawaii are all under the age of 12. And believe me when I tell you, I’m a lot older than that—and a lot older than I actually look. So, no. We may be obsessed with the cuteness of doll-like figures, the bursting fluff of anime characters-turned-plush-toy, or the rage that is Sanrio, but we’re pretty mature in the serious dedication we have to our own personal collections. At least I do. And I also fulfill one of the kawaii lovers’ given stereotypes especially since the products and the social culture of kawaii is so successfully marketed towards Asians. Yes, I’m Asian (surprise)!
Still that doesn’t deter me from proudly joining what I call, The Kawaii Collective, and its craze, nor does it stop me from nurturing my slow, but steady collection of kawaii stuff. And when I say, stuff, I mean STUFF. All kinds of it. From Hello Kitty vintage, Sailor Moon and My Little Pony keychains, MocMoc bobbleheads, Momiji dolls, rolls of decorative tape and stationery, puffy rainbow stickers, to an extensive variety of Unicorno vinyl toys.
Which leads me to how I discovered my latest craze—Tokidoki. As soon as I discovered it when browsing photos on Instagram, I instantly fell in love with its colourful prints, a collage of a number of kawaii characters created by creative designer, Simone Legno.
Legno, along with his partners, Pooneh Mohajer and Ivan Arnold, created the brand of Tokidoki in 2003 in Los Angeles, California—a brand that has exploded into apparel, handbags, cosmetics, accessories, toys, and more.
It has, by agreement and understanding of kawaii lovers everywhere, proclaimed its justifiable cult status. And yes, while I have always professed to snub elitism; my fashion palette and kawaii sensibility have both succumbed to joining the cult that is known and beloved by all Tokidoki followers. (You can follow me on Instagram here.)
I did indeed gasp at the sight of Tokidoki because…well…because I’m MAD for it, much to the expectation and frustration of my Instagram followers who have had to endure a number of my kawaiiand Tokidokiposts.
For my fellow kawaii-loving friends and Tokidoki brothers and sisters, here are a couple of new items that I’ve procured for your visual devouring:
The Tokidoki brand has within it a number of kawaiicharacters belonging to a sub-brand with a back story.
Here are a few of my favourite characters from Tokidokiand their stories:
SANDy of Cactus Friendszips herself into a cactus suit as a form of armor to face the cold and frightening world. As a representation of the cactus, she represents conservation and purity of water, a source of life.
Donutella of the Donutella and Her Sweet Friends series is from a planet where sugar is used as energy. When scouting for fuel in her donut UFO, she discovered Earth and the large amounts of sweets that she couldn’t resist building a sweet colony here instead of returning to her planet. She now calls Earth her home. And boy, does she make me want to eat a donut.
Prima Donna of the Unicornos was once a pony who just happened to cross a magic waterfall—and ta-dah! Poof! Just like that, she was transformed into one of the many unicornos who discovered a magic kingdom on the other side. Unicornos now live between the magic kingdom and our world. (I love her because she’s not only a unicorn with a crown, she’s also somewhat of a diva. You go, Girl…er…I mean Unicorno!)
Mozzarella and Bulletto:
Mozzarella and Bulletto are both part of the Moofia,a group of sweet renegades assigned to take milk from bullies in the lunch cafeteria or school yard. These guys are loving and kind to the good kids and cute, too, but make no mistake about it—if you’re a bully, they have guns and they’re not afraid to use them. Their aim? Protect the innocent, give them milk to help them grow strong and healthy.
Latte of the Moofia is…well…a latte. And you know how I can’t resist one of those! He’s part of the gang, but he doesn’t believe in guns. Only a high volume of calcium. He may be cute and totally kawaii, but this milk-guy will seriously kick some bully butt. Milk is what makes our teeth and bones strong, right?And boy, it is moo-a-liscious!
Are you familiar and/or a fan of kawaii and/or Tokidoki?
Do you own any kawaii and/or Tokidoki pieces in a collection?
Who is your favourite kawaii and/or Tokidoki character and why?
The books have been pouring in, which can only mean a few things:
I have an active constellation acting on my behalf.
My bookshelves are getting a good workout.
My husband will soon suspend my book-buying budget.
I am frantically getting behind on my reading and reviews.
Publishers like me.
Twitter is useful.
Rafflecopter is rigged.
My postman is pissed at me—and I mean really pissed at me.
I squeal and book shimmy about every 10 minutes.
Authors are alive and well and still have a lot of stories to tell.
Here’s a look at the Bibliotaphe’s Closet’s latest additions:
Books for Review:
A special thanks as always to Random House of Canada for sending me the following books for review:
Man by Kim Thuy
If this novel is as good as Thuy’s last novel, Ru, then we’re all in for a lyrical read.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
10:04 by Ben Lerner
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
If you’re an Atwood fan (and really, who isn’t?), you’re going to want to get your hands on her new collection of short stories. I loved her last collection, Moral Disorder, so I’m excited to read this as soon as I can.
And of course, a special thanks to Quirk Books for sending me the following book for review:
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
When this first arrived, I absolutely fell in love with its book design. I don’t actually have to say which catalogue it resembles, do I? I don’t think I’ll be able to look at my furniture the same way again.
Thanks to author, Eric Smith, for sending me a copy of his book (and its matching poster) for review. I haven’t hung the poster on the wall yet, only because I need to go out and buy a couple of gigantic frames. Nevertheless, I look forward to decorating my office soon with book posters galore. As for being a geek, yes, I am one.
The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith
Books I Won:
I apparently have an entire (yet unnamed) constellation dedicated to my good fortune. This constellation, though, seems to only favour me in winning only books because I haven’t yet won the lottery—then again, there is a HUGE money pot up for grabs this Friday, which means I’ll have to talk this constellation up for me to have even a little crack at winning.
Nevertheless, I have a heart full of thanks to send out to many generous publishers and authors who have chosen me as the recipient of their book giveaways and contests. Me and my bookshelves are honoured!
Thanks to Penguin Random House on behalf of Razorbilland the Bloggers & Books Network Program for sending me the following book:
The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston
I don’t have the tendency to get stared at, unless of course, I have something on my face like the remnants of the last cupcake I’ve devoured. Only then do people notice me. Still, this book looks good to read.
Thanks to my special friends at Simon & Schuster Canadafor sending me a copy of the following for review:
Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley
Personally, I mate for life. After being married a good 12 years to who I consider the sexiest man alive this year and for every year after, I know I’m in it forever. (I hope this book is as positive about marriage as I am.)
Thanks to Source Bookswho host a monthly book chat and for sending me a copy of the following:
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
I love Paris. I haven’t been to Paris, but I love it still. And I look forward to reading this politically charged novel.
A big high-five to the folks at Retreat Random House of Canada for hosting a read-along. I was lucky enough to be one of the winners on the Rafflecopter to score a new edition of this book:
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Congratulations to author, Josephine Angelini, on her new publication of this bewitching YA, paranormal book. I’m glad to be one of the few winners who snagged an ARC from her blog giveaway:
Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini
Tor Bookssent me more magic by sending me a copy of this book, plus a cute Tor Books recycling bag as the winner of their giveaway contest. Thanks, Tor Books!
Copper Magic by Julia Mary Gibson
Steph from the book blog, Feisty Little Woman, sent me a personal note along with my book prize from her giveaway. I was so pleased to receive both. Thanks, Steph!
Interference by Michelle Berry
And thanks to the marketing folks on Twitter on behalf of Hyperionfor sending me this book from their Twitter giveaway. I’m looking forward to reading all about Rosie:
Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern
And last, but not least, a special thanks goes out to Giselle, a fellow book blogger whose reviews are as great as her web design! Be sure to check out her the book blog, Book Nerd. She sent me my choice of prize from her August 2014 Book Outlet Giveaway:
The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell
Books I Bought:
These YA books caught my eye not only because of their plots and cover designs, but because of their unbelievable prices! Yes, I bought these babies on sale and the discount was so deep, they felt like they were almost free!
Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould
Based on the number of books in this collection, I think it’s fair to say that all the reasons I listed above most likely all apply to why these books may have poured in at once! Thanks to my loyal constellation, the generosity of publishers and authors, and the patience of my dutiful and hardworking postman.
(Here’s hoping that my luck is even better when I play the lottery on Friday…)
Of all the books listed above, which are you most interested in reading and why?
Do you have any of these in your collection?
Which ones would you like to add to your bookshelf?
I woke up, blinked, and poof—summer was done. Just like that. And it seems I’m still in a bit of a daze about it. Yes, I woke up extra early today. I hesitantly woke the children up much against their will: there was a yawn, a rollover, and a quiet plea for a little more time under the covers. But, I had to do it. Much against my own compassion for what it is to be a wee one on the first day of school, plus my own desire to simply cuddle my babies to my chest and keep them home, I had to play Mommy and be tough—well, act tough, anyway, for their sakes.
My preparation and anxiety from the night before proved to be helpful: clothes were set out, backpacks were packed, and the lunch menu already pre-planned. I washed the little one, dressed her up in clothes she agreed to wear, and tied up her hair as best as I could without any resistance, which usually happens when I put her hair up in pig-tails. So far, so good.
Breakfast was set, vitamins chewed, and the kids miraculously didn’t argue about which channel to watch on T.V.—YTV or Treehouse, which in the past meant a long and endless tirade of whining and drama that only raised my stress level and magically turned me into a frothing tyrant-referee desperate to diffuse an inevitable violence between two adamant, stubborn children willing to fight to the very end in order to watch either Toopy and Binoo or Scaredy Squirrel—a fight I really wanted to be no part of.
It seemed the morning wasn’t going to be a dreadful start to the fall as forewarned. We walked together, backpacks, and nervous anticipation in tow. Other children and their families in the community were also out in their new shoes, new haircuts, and bustling strides, eager to reconcile with old friends, and former classmates, to size up their potentially great or grave, new teachers—it was, after all, the luck of the draw.
The pre-determined personality of a teacher held the promise of either a glorious or unfortunately grotesque year. This subtle fear was apparent in both the hushed whispers between parents and the over-compensating cackles of kids who grew a couple more inches over the summer holidays. It was a chaotic buzz in the school yard, which marked the beginning of another school year, a testimony to new routines, and bigger challenges. It meant, too, a time to let go.
While I didn’t get an opportunity to meet Michael’s Grade 5 teacher in person because she was late in arriving onsite, I was still able to successfully take my daughter all the way to the other side of the school in greeting her new Senior Kindergarten teacher before the bell rang.
Michael was preoccupied in speaking with old friends, comparing notes on who ended up on the same roster, and therefore, in the same class to be overly concerned about the formalities of goodbye and good luck from his mother. Thankfully, he was still okay with his Mom giving him a hug goodbye.
Xara, on the other hand, professed she didn’t need a hug from me, that she was now in Senior Kindergarten, and therefore called to be a leader—more specifically, a Bumblebee Leader—a role model to the new kids in Junior Kindergarten who would inevitably need to be shown what to do. Uh-huh, okay.
I did, however, introduce her to her new teacher and she shyly said, “Hi,” before joining her classmates in line. The bell rang, we waved goodbye to one another, and off she went, sure of herself, telling me on the way to school that she knew to put her indoor shoes on, once she got inside, and to put her extra pack of clothes in her new cubby. She is, after all, an expert now.
As for me, I’m still dazed at the success of the morning, clinging to the thought of my children’s safety and success, hoping for the best for them, and missing them, just the same.
But, we’re still here. And even though the future continues to meet us directly, and always too soon, I’m begrudgingly happy to wish summer goodbye and hello to fall, the onslaught of cooler weather, cozier fashion, and a tizzy of new, upcoming books—and yes, to more hand-painted portraits of the my daughter’s creative imagination and marked-up reports of my son’s potential success in multiplication and problem-solving in Grade 5 math.
(Better that, than the news of a first-time girlfriend or boyfriend for each one of them! Then we’re talking about an all-out Zombie Apocalypse for Mommy—and we don’t want that.)
What’s your First Day Back at School been like?
What are you looking forward to learning this year? If not for yourself, your children?
What goals are you looking forward to achieving this year? If not for yourself, for your children?
Which books do you look forward to reading this fall?
Hope you have a great day back to school—and back to the grind!
(If it’s any compensation, just think of all the new books you get to read this year.)
Books and nooks. Writing and reading between the pages.