17 May 2013

review: life canvas by parragon books

For some reason, Parragon books are a name I generally associate with my childhood and the Scholastic catalogues I used to get from school (I'm not even sure they are connected!). I was surprised to see that this brand had now branched out into the stationery sector with their Life Canvas range - not that I think it's a bad thing! Unexpected brands are popping up all over the place with stationery ranges - I recently talked about Hallmark releasing various stationery ranges too. More choice can only be a good thing for stationery fiends like myself and all of you readers :)

This review will feature four products: a colour notebook, an A6 organiser notebook, a 'My Notebook Organiser' set and the 'My Travel Journal'.


I have the purple one to show off here but these notebooks also come in red, green, yellow, silver and blue. According to the website, they come in bright Pantone colours and as you might already know, I love Pantone notebooks with my orange one and my pink one so you can see why this range appealed to me! The true colour wasn't really captured by my camera - it is a lovely bright purple and the text 'Purple Rain' is actually shiny and pressure printed as opposed to being a lighter shade of purple.

Inside, the pages are a light purple with a darker purple border. Notice the rounded edges - I love little details like this! On each double-page spread is a quote, phrase or anecdote that has the word purple within it. It also has a ribbon that acts as a page marker.

The paper feels quite thin and when I did a brief pen test with my Pentel Energel 0.7mm in black, I found that there was more show-through than I would have liked. However, the paper absorbed the ink well with minimal visible feathering.


I am a big fan of birds and ducks (they pretty much look the same when it comes to stationery) and this definitely caught my eye. The front cover makes it quite obvious that this is aimed, primarily, at the female population.

Inside, there are 'tabs' formed by cutting the various sections of paper down to size. There are ten tabs and these are: notes, to do, ideas, the best music, books, films, websites plus three blank ones for you to label as you wish. Each page is beautifully decorated in some way and I can definitely see the appeal.

The paper feels identical to the Purple Rain note book featured above. Retailing at £8, this notebook is quite expensive for what it is but with it being quite a niche product, I can see why it is priced higher than other similarly sized notebooks out there. I think this would make an ideal birthday gift for someone.


The Chirp A5 My Organiser Set retails at £10.

This is a cute organiser where you have a variety of tools to work with. It opens up from left to right and then opens once again from right to left (if that even makes sense!). When you open it up, there is a envelope pocket on the right (I love the enclosure - it reminds me of my childhood as my dad had many envelopes and folders like that. I used to play with them all the time!) and when it is open fully, there are sticky notes on the left and a pad of A5 notepaper in the middle too.

The one thing about the sticky notes is that the top middle one is hard to remove due to the placement of the sticky notes around it. It would have been better for there to be a tiny gap between each set. I tested out the stickiness of these sticky notes and they aren't too bad. They are sticky enough to stay stuck on and so much so that the part without the glue ends up curling up. The glue doesn't feel super-sticky but it does the job very nicely.

This product is beautiful - I'm not the girliest girl but this organiser set had my mouth watering, mainly due to this notepad. Each sheet is perforated at the top to minimise the possibility of a messy tear.

Finally, the envelope is expandable and it is the right size for a chequebook/cheque (I'm trying to give you an idea about its true size). The enclosure is quite safe and shouldn't come apart by itself if done up properly.

Overall, this organiser set had me loving and disliking it at the same time. The design is great and appealing without being too cheesy and the whole set in general is very practical and usable. However, the elastic enclosure is something I'm not a fan of - I would have either made it a vertical one as opposed to a horizontal one and the closeness of each set of sticky notes does make it frustrating for those times when you want to tear one off in a hurry.


This travel journal is A6 in size and has a vintage-like feel to it - something I love!

The 'My Travel Journal' retails at £8.

Opening it up, there is a pocket on the left - ideal for tickets and various other paraphernalia you'll undoubtedly accrue when on your travels. There is a journal on the right and boy, is it packed with a variety of useful pages. Here are the pages included:

- Things to do before I go;
- Things to pack;
- Quite a number of pages designed for you to record what you did, where, when and what the weather was like;
- A number of pages for you to record restaurants you went to, dishes you tried, thoughts and what not to miss. There are also stars for you to give to each restaurant - what a way to make you feel like a professional food critic!;
- Pages for you to note down addresses and contact details of friends - ideal for postcard sending;
- A world map with each country in a different colour;
- A time zone map;
- Currencies of the world;
- and a page of  conversions and measurements (as not everyone deals in metric!).

Top left: what you see when you open the notebook;
Top right: journal pages for you to record what you did, when, where and what the weather was like;
Bottom left: restaurant record pages;
Bottom right: Things to pack
I love the design of the pages in the journal, and also the overall visual design of it because I'm a sucker for things with a vintage design. However, I'm not a fan of the elastic enclosure (again) - I think it ruins a very pretty notebook. If the elastic was vertical instead of horizontal, I think this notebook could very well have received full marks from me in the design department!

Another thing I noticed was that the notebook on the right wasn't glued on straight and neither was the envelope on the left. Both were visibly wonky - and I didn't go looking for the wonkiness; I noticed it when I was flicking through the pages for the purpose of this review. Obviously, this won't bother everyone and I might just have received a dud one but for those of you out there who are more OCD about these kind of things, you might want to inspect this product in person before buying it.

At the back of the notebook is a quote:

This travel journal just makes me want to go travelling imminently!

Overall, I'm quite surprised at how pretty the products were in person. The paper quality leaves a little to be desired but it isn't dreadful enough for the range to be a total write-off. In general, the range does its concept justice - all of the notebooks give you a way to document your life in some way and the ones I have definitely do that, and very well too. If you want to see more about the range of products, click here :)

Thank you, Emily at Parragon books, for sending me these samples for a review. It was a pleasure to 'test-drive' them and to flick through notebooks with such beautifully designed paper!

Disclaimer: All views my own and are not affected by the fact that the products were received as samples. I receive no commission from any links used in this blog post and I was not paid to write this blog post.


  1. Hey! I love the Chirp A6 organiser but the links take me to The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks on Amazon! I can't find it on Amazon so would really appreciate a link, please! xx

    1. Hi! Yeah, I've noticed a lot of my links doing that lately! I'm trying to rectify it at the moment :) The link would be the one mentioned at the beginning of the post: http://www.parragon.com/lifecanvas/ :) Hope that helps! x

    2. Amazing, thank you! That may well be my new favourite website! No idea how you manage to find such beautiful stationery! Thanks for your help and keep up the awesome blog :) xx

    3. Aw thank you for the lovely comments :-) I'm always on the lookout for good-looking stationery so there will, no doubt, be more to come in the (hopefully) near future :) xxx

  2. I love the Chirp stationery you have. ♥ It's so cute. I really love anything pink and pretty.

    1. The Chirp range is by far my favourite of these products :) Seems we have a similar taste in stationery :D x

  3. Cutie!! ♥

    Been thiking about buying or making a DIY travel diary like the last vacation I had... But you are giving me some ideas Angela!


    God Bless!

    JM Kayne | www.iamjmkayne.com