Monologue Platinum A6 Silver

31 01 2014

Go on, get it out of your system: bling. The Monologue Platinum is about as blingtastic as a notebook can get without incorporating precious gems, rhinestones, glitter, or spinners (not gonna lie, I’d buy a notebook with a little spinner rim on the cover—SOMEONE MAKE IT HAPPEN).

Also comes in black, bronze, and gold, none of which are colors I think of when I think of the word 'platinum.'

Also comes in black, bronze, and gold, none of which are colors I think of when I think of the word ‘platinum’

Metallic silver cover. Silver bookmark. Silver (or gray really) elastic closure, fabulous silver-edged pages. It’s got bling without shouting you down.

Product idea: every time you open the notebook, it rains dollar bills and plays the 100 all-time greatest platinum hits

Product idea: every time you open the notebook, it rains dollar bills and plays the 100 all-time greatest platinum hits

The front cover has a smooth, pressed down section to keep the elastic from biting so badly through the cover like it does on the regular Monologue Ruled Notebook. Take note, Rhodia, it might be worth a try (or a prototype? wink wink my mailbox is open).

These are supposed to be white pages. I just don't get enough sunshine in my world

These are supposed to be white pages. I just don’t get enough sunshine in my world

In terms of extras, you’ve got a whole page for your contact information, a section for addresses, and even some pages for websites and blogs. Who even knows people with that many blogs? There’s also a back pocket, which is only really important when a notebook doesn’t have one and you need it.

Showthrough and bleedthrough is pretty bad with fountain pens. Stick to gel pens, micro tip preferably

Showthrough and bleedthrough is pretty bad with fountain pens. Stick to gel pens, micro tip preferably

These lines are tight. Is miniature college ruled even a thing? How do you even fit 25 lines on an A6 page?? This is crazy. The paper (80gsm) is way too absorbent for fountain pens, but at lines this tiny you know you gotta go with microtip gel pens. Once again, I highly recommend the Pilot Juice 0.38mm—my dark red Juice is doing wonderfully on this paper. But anything 0.5mm and under would look great. And with all these lines per page, you can fit more writing in.

Shiny pages on every notebook. That is what I want now

Shiny pages on every notebook. That is what I want now

You want more lines in your pocket notebook? You want something that stands out a little? You want another notebook dedicated to your micro-tip gel pens? Here it is.

Monologue Platinum A6 at Grandluxe





Monologue Jotter A5 – Blue Cover

6 11 2013
Front and back. Allegedly this is a blue cover, navy more like. That kind of navy you keep thinking is black until you put it next to something actually black.

Front and back. Allegedly this is a blue cover, navy more like. That kind of navy you keep thinking is black until you put it next to something actually black.

As previously established, I am a fan of hiding things in notebooks. The Monologue Jotter is just the kind of notebook I want to exist—you’ve got the sleek notebook profile with the convenient functionality of a pen loop. A big thank you to Grandluxe for providing this sample for review.

Pen loop empty, pen loop with a Lamy Pur fountain pen, pen loop with the mechanical pencil it comes with

Pen loop empty, pen loop with a Lamy Pur fountain pen, pen loop with the mechanical pencil it comes with

Unlike an add-on, sticking-out pen loop, this Jotter loop is streamlined right into the side of the notebook. No worrying about your pen falling out or getting knocked off. You pick a perfect pen to pair with this notebook, and then here you have everything you need to carry along for a writing session.

A small sampling of some of the pens that fit. Not all at the same time, obviously.

A small sampling of some of the pens that fit. Not all at the same time, obviously.

Not every pen will fit, but many do. A general rule of thumb: no pens taller than 5 & 3/8 inches, and slick barrels tend to do better than ones with rubbery grips (that rubbery-bodied Jetstream up there was a tough fit). The Monologue Jotter comes with a classy, ballpoint-pen-looking mechanical pencil.

Ballpencil?

Ballpencil?

The pencil is a brilliant move on the seller’s end—you could let this product sit on a shelf indefinitely (though I doubt it would) and never have to worry whether the included implement will write when the customer busts it out. It’s a pencil, of course it will write. Two odd points to note about the pencil: you have to twist the barrel to advance the lead (like you would twist some pens to advance the refill), and I can’t find an eraser on it.

The Jotter and my Lamy get along well

The Jotter and my Lamy get along well

Like the large Monologue Ruled Notebook, the Monologue Jotter handles most fountain pen ink well. The major exceptions are Pilot Petit 1 fountain pens, and printing with broad-nibbed pens (especially with darker ink). Myself, I’ve paired my suede polyurethane Jotter (admittedly my least favorite polyurethane texture, by the way)  with a silver Lamy Pur, extra fine nib, Lamy blue cartridge ink, and it’s doing wonderfully: no bleedthrough, no bad show-through, no fuzzing, no feathering, great drying time (I’ve had no problems while handwriting this review in the notebook).

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE

I didn’t realize until reading around on some other reviews of the Monologue Jotter that the paper is divided into two sections—lined in the front half, blank with a frame around it in the back half. You know what this means? I’ve been carrying around a notebook AND a sketchbook THIS WHOLE TIME. Mind = blown. Probably an annoying feature if you have no use for blank pages, but if you want to brainstorm or scribble down some doodles too, you’ve only got to carry around one notebook. It’s a little weird, yes, but I’m down with it.

Look how sleek!

Look how sleek!

The only thing I need to make this THE ultimate perfect notebook is a smooth polyurethane cover. Maybe more color choices? Other paper options? Maybe one day!

Monologue Jotter A5 at Grandluxe Online Store





Monologue Sketch Pad A6 – Orange

24 10 2013
I swear I didn't plan on having such fabulous fall colors

I swear I didn’t plan on having such fabulous fall colors

On appearance, the Monologue sketch pad is getting a lot of things right—love the warm orange paired with grey cloth interior, and this striking minimalist design (pressed? embossed? cut? spellcast?) on the cover. The cover (suede polyurethane) isn’t standard smooth polyurethane; it feels like imitation cloth…which is beyond my understanding as to why the feeling of cloth would be one to imitate, but here we are. That’s art.

Things I probably shouldn't keep doing: pushing the cover askew

Things I probably shouldn’t keep doing: pushing the cover askew

I don’t like the free-floating factor of the front cover—I can’t in good conscience just toss this sketch pad in a bag because there’s 100% chance something else in the bag will push the cover askew, which can’t be good for it over time.

I suppose the trade-off for the free-floating cover problem is that it opens up quite nicely

I suppose the trade-off for the free-floating cover problem is that it opens up quite nicely

The main sketchpad seems well attached, and the way it’s designed the pages lay nice and usably flat. But how is the paper?

The paper, according to Grandluxe: 140 gsm Italian acid free rough textured drawing paper surface treated with vegetable gel,  Suitable for drawing with the following techniques: Charcoal - Chalk - Graphite - Pencil - Pastel - Oil Pastel - Wax  Crayon - Red Chalk - Acrylic - Collage - Oil - Marker - Spray - Tempera.

The paper, according to Grandluxe: 140 gsm Italian acid free rough textured drawing paper, surface treated with vegetable gel, Suitable for drawing with the following techniques: Charcoal – Chalk – Graphite – Pencil – Pastel – Oil Pastel – Wax Crayon – Red Chalk – Acrylic – Collage – Oil – Marker – Spray – Tempera.

No worries! It does great for an all-purpose sketch paper. The only bleedthrough was from using Copic markers (which still look good on the page, just can’t use both sides). Everything else, from fine pens to watercolor to pencils and more, did wonderfully. The paper has some tooth to it, you can see, but not so much as to get in the way of using any of the pens. Good art paper all around.

Some people hit the open road. Some people hit the open sketchbook.

Some people hit the open road. Some people hit the open sketchbook.

Though I’ll worry about inadvertently tearing off this unsecure cover over time, the quality and usability of this paper ensures that I will be still using it until the cover falls off.

Thanks to Grandluxe for providing this sample!

Monologue Sketch Pad A6 – in Grey, Orange, Blue, & Red at Grandluxe





Monologue Ruled Notebooks (A5, A6, A7, & A8)

30 09 2013
Four notebooks all at once! We can do this!

Four notebooks all at once! We can do this!

The obvious comparison to make for these notebooks is the Rhodia Webnotebook, so let’s go ahead and get it out of the way. Where the Rhodia Webbie only comes in A5 and A6, the Monologue ruled notebooks come in A5, A6, and the even smaller A7 and A8.

Costing more does not protect the Webbie cover from being damaged by the elastic band, just like the Monologue

Costing more does not protect the Webbie cover from being damaged by the elastic band

They all have the same basic design: a soft-to-the-touch hardback leatherette/polyurethane cover, with strong elastic bands pressing dents in the top and bottom of the cover; silk ribbon bookmarks and back pockets. And they’re both filled with paper (a quality point of some significant divergence between the two). In terms of the outside, they’re nearly equivalent. It’s almost impossible to tell if the Rhodia or the Monologue has a smoother cover; I’ve sat here for several minutes rubbing notebooks on my face and I still can’t make up my mind.

Do not be fooled, this cheesy yellow orange is more of a goldenrod when you get the notebook by itself. I promise

Do not be fooled, this cheesy yellow orange is more of a goldenrod when you get the notebook by itself. I promise

The color of the four notebooks I received are fantastic for the start of fall—the A5 is a warm brown that falls somewhere between milk chocolate and 70% cacao; the purple is a lovely shade that looks pretty close to such impressive-sounding Wikipedia-defined hues as royal purple or pomp and power, with its elastic band a striking lighter shade (I’d hazard a guess at an actual color name, but I’m getting tired of squinting and holding the notebook up to the screen). The olive green A7 is a good color to hold onto—a last bit of verdancy before the leaves turn warm and start to fall. And the palm-sized goldenrod yellow A8? I can practically smell the bonfires and taste the long-awaited pumpkin spices, this color is so perfectly autumnal.

A8, A7, A6, and A5 writing samples, with reverse sides shown in order underneath, except the A5, that's the reverse side of a page full of broad-nibbed Vanishing Point writing

A8, A7, A6, and A5 writing samples, with reverse sides shown in order underneath, except the A5, that’s the reverse side of a page full of broad-nibbed Vanishing Point writing

A funny thing happens with the Monologue notebook series—the bigger the notebook, the better it’s able to handle liquid ink. There’s no immediately obvious reason WHY this is the case; all four notebooks claim to contain 80gsm cream-colored acid-free paper. It’s not how big or small I’m writing; writing large in the little notebooks with a broad-nibbed fountain pen still looks terrible.

The greatest paper-based mystery of our times

The greatest paper-based mystery of our times

I don’t know what to make of it. The wee A8 is hemorrhaging ink through the page so bad I’ve got half a mind to call an ambulance for it, while the larger A5 is letting this broad-nib Vanishing Point lay down crisp lines with only minimal showthrough and only an occasional dot of bleedthrough. It’s negligible enough to comfortably use both sides of the page. Dry time is good—beginning of a line is dry before I get to the end of the line. How is the A5 doing this? Why doesn’t liquid ink do well in any of the others? Is it magic? I am both confused, and impressed.

Too many words. Better break things up with pictures.

Too many words. Better break things up with pictures.

It’s difficult to review in aggregate a set of notebooks whose paper behaves differently depending on the size of the notebook. I would be interested to know if these differences I’m seeing holds true across multiple other samples and other peoples’ experiences. I’d like to make some recommendations anyway, based on the performance of the notebooks I’ve got.

For a sense of relative scale. Line spacing in the A5: 7mm

For a sense of relative scale. Line spacing in the A5: 7mm

100% fountain pens. They do so well, why not use them? Unless you don’t like fountain pens, in which case I’m making funny eyes at you. This paper did well with every kind of writing utensil except for the Pilot Petit 1, which I’m starting to realize does uniquely poorly on many kinds of paper. Though you could really use any pen with this notebook, for me it will be exclusively the domain of the fountain pens.

Line spacing in the A6: 6mm

Line spacing in the A6: 6mm

The purple A6 is the limit when it comes to fountain pen use—and even then I would only advise very fine Japanese nibs. And even then, when you look very close you can tell that the lines aren’t perfect. You start to get fuzzing, you see more spots of bleedthrough. So really, I wouldn’t recommend fountain pens at all in this notebook. For this notebook I’m feeling super-smooth ballpoints and brightly-colored broad gel pens. This notebook is a good pocket size that’s still big enough to jot down a short story, and for that, I want a pen that flows.

Line spacing in the A7: 6mm

Line spacing in the A7: 6mm

The A7 is a bit too small to write out big chunks of prose. This size—a size that actually fits easily in a back pocket—is more suited to an everyday all-purposes notebook, or perhaps good for poetry. It’s small enough to blend into an everyday carry, while still having enough space to fit a thought on the page. For this notebook, I’d stick with gel pens and ballpoints 0.5mm or lower. I’m particularly loving the look of my 0.38mm dark red Pilot Juice on this paper—it’s perfect for this notebook.

Line spacing on the A8: 5mm

Line spacing on the A8: 5mm

If ever a notebook was made with micro-tip gel pens in mind, it’s this ridiculously tiny notebook. I love miniatures. You want me to impulse buy something? Put out a tiny version of it. This is undoubtedly, adorably the smallest hardcover notebook I own. Pretty sure it’s small enough to qualify as a choking hazard (if your child has a big mouth or is a hinged-jawed python). This is the only notebook without a back pocket (but what would you put in it, stamps?). If Rhodia and Moleskine had a baby, it would be this little notebook: smooth cover and fountain pen unfriendly paper. Bust out your absolute smallest micro tip gel pens—and ballpoints if you have them—and write the tiniest thoughts you can think. Might even be worth getting your hands on a Uni Signo Bit 0.18mm.

A size for however big your thoughts are that day

A size for however big your thoughts are that day

Ultimately, the overall Monologue line of ruled notebooks can’t compare on paper quality to the Rhodia Webnotebook, but then, the Monologue is in a whole different price bracket. And especially if you’re not among the fountain pen obsessed like I am, and regularly do your writing with ballpoints and gel pens, and are looking for that leatherette-feel without paying fountain-pen-paper prices, you might look into the Monologue Ruled Notebook.

Monologue Ruled Notebooks are carried in the Grandluxe online store, and on their Amazon store. And they have their own Facebook page, if that sort of thing appeals to you.