March 2018 My First Reading Club Subscription Box Review!

I told you all that soon I would have a new subscription box to share and review and it is here! This subscription box is called “My First Reading Club” and they have a wide variety of ages you can pick from to receive at least 3 or 4 brand new children’s books each month. The best part is it only costs $9.99 (plus shipping)! Often, you recoup the entire price in just ONE book!

For this first month I picked the “Just Starting Out” age group, which is 2 and under I believe. However, I have upped the age group for my next box because I would like to receive some regular picture books and not just board books. Anyhow, here is what I received this month:



  • A Disney Frozen “Ice Box” set that includes four board books, each featuring different characters (Anna, Elsa, Kristoff & Sven, and Olaf), Retail $10.99
  • A Sparkly Nickelodeon Team Umizoomi Board Book entitled “Follow That Egg!”, Retail $6.99
  • A Disney Sheriff Callie’s Wild West Lift-the-Flap Book entitled “Callie Saves the Day”, Retail $8.99
  • A gift for Moms – AMBR Green Tea Spa Lotion, unknown value

Here are the four Disney Frozen books inside the “Ice Box” set (my favorite of which is definitely the Olaf book):


Here is a peek inside the other two books we got this month:


I like all the books we got this month, although I will admit I was a little disappointed to only get one Easter themed book (the Umizoomi one). In other My First Book Club box reviews I have seen, it looked like they often sent themed packages out with almost all books relating to any holidays that month, so I was definitely expecting more of an Easter theme.

Like I said above, although I do like children’s board books, I want a more well-rounded box to build up my collection, so I did up the age group for my next box. It is nice that they always send a little gift for Mom too. Of the books they sent this month, my favorite is definitely the Umizoomi book. Partly because it is Easter-themed, and partly because it is really sparkly and I do love sparkly things!



“Love, Simon” Movie Review


Today my husband and I went to see the new movie “Love, Simon”. I love reading YA novels and have always enjoyed teen movies as well, so I was excited to go see this one. I thought the premise of a teen hiding his gay sexuality from his friends, family, and school was a realistic one that likely has occurred many times in our culture. Perhaps it is getting easier to come out now than it was back when I was in high school or before that, but it is still hard for many young people to come clean about such an intimate and often maligned subject. Especially if you fear your family and friends will not accept you after the admission.

In “Love, Simon”, the main character (Simon, of course) DOES have supportive, open-minded family members and friends, but he is still afraid to come out of the closet. Perhaps this is because of the bullying he sees go on at school, pointed towards another kid who is openly gay. Or it could be that even though he knows his parents and friends will accept him, he just isn’t prepared for the social pressure and discomfort that often accompanies such a declaration. I think that even though Simon knows his family is loving and liberal, he may have a smidgen of doubt that his father would be happy, since he often makes jokes about girls with his only son.

I won’t ruin the whole plot for you, just know that there is a lot of friend drama, some blackmail, more than one romantic subplot, and a lot of the teen angst you would expect from a movie like this. The movie has a great sense of humor and addresses the subject of sexuality frankly and with many quips. I loved how Simon as a character was just your normal, average kind of guy, and not some kind of “gay stereotype” (other than Simon being in a school musical, but then again, many of the straight kids in the movie were in the musical too, so it didn’t seem to be meant as some sort of sexual stereotype).

Overall, the movie was sweet and uplifting. I saw my husband actually tear up at one point, but I rarely ever tear up at movies, so it didn’t do it for me this time either. It was definitely worth the time to see it though, and the teens seated all around me seemed to be in love with the movie.

“Mini Myths”, Kids Board Books Based on Greek Mythology

I love children’s books. I collect many different kinds of books for kids and honestly probably have more books geared towards children in my library than I have books geared for adults. Recently I came across these “Mini Myths” board books that are made for babies and toddlers (written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli). They feature characters like Pandora, Hercules, and Medusa from Greek mythology and are simply adorable:


Here you can see a brief glimpse inside the books:


I think my favorite is probably Pandora, although I love Hercules’ energy and trouble-making attitude. If you work with or have small children of your own, I would definitely check these books out. They are a great way to introduce even the youngest of kids to fun characters from mythology in a silly, playful way kids and parents will love.

Shopping Haul Blog – Candy, Kids Books, and Doll Stuff

I thought it might be fun to do a shopping blog and show you guys some stuff I got today 🙂 Let me know if you like this kind of thing, I’ve seen other bloggers do posts like this and I enjoy them.

After my therapy appointment today (where we talked about some really heavy stuff and I cried a good part of the session), I did a little bit of shopping to try to cheer myself up. First I went to Dollar Tree, where I absolutely can’t resist the candy:


I’m excited to try the Marshmallow Milky Ways! While there I also bought a few baby things for my new reborn doll that I am expecting soon in the mail. I adore Sesame Street, so I had to get some of their fun stuff and for $1, even if I don’t use it a lot at least it isn’t a big waste of money:


The Sesame Street Baby Wash is actually for me, not the doll. I really like the way it smells, so I’ll use it as bubble bath! The other things are a bathtime book called “Let’s Share” and a toy rattle that will be a fun prop for the baby doll. Lastly, I went to Goodwill and found a few little things there too:


The monkey sleeper outfit is obviously for the doll, but the kids books are for me (I collect children’s books among other things). One of the books I bought simply because it is about ice cream, and the other book is based on The Peanuts Movie.

Fun trivia question: Do you know the name of Snoopy’s three siblings which are featured in the movie? If so, answer in the comments!

“Borderline” Book Review


Right now I’m reading a pretty cool book called “Borderline”, written by Mishell Baker, which is the first book in the author’s “The Arcadia Project” series. The main reason I wanted to read this book was because the main character (Millie) happens to have borderline personality disorder and the book focuses on that a lot.

The story starts out pretty sad, with Millie in a psych facility, trying to rehabilitate from a failed suicide attempt that caused her to have to have both legs amputated. Sounds like a real heartwarming tale, huh? But things get better and more interesting when Millie is recruited to work for something called “The Arcadia Project”, which is an organization that trains mentally ill patients to work with fairies…yes, you read that right, FAIRIES. The plot really starts rolling when Millie is given the task of hunting down a missing member of the fairy community who also happens to be a movie star.

So, to encapsulate the novel, this book is a hodgepodge of mental illness, tragedy, mystery, Hollywood, magic, and fantasy. And somehow…it all works really well together. I don’t normally read a whole lot of fantasy fiction, but the spin on bpd made me give this one a chance and I’m glad I did!

Almost 500 Followers! And My PO Box Info!


I’m only 2 away from 500 blog followers! That is so cool and makes me really happy! I am always astonished to see that many people who care about what I have to say and who enjoy my art!

By the way, in case any of you were unaware, I do actually have a PO Box which I originally set up for my YouTube channels, but if anyone who reads my blog wishes to send me a note, letter, fan art, supportive donations, a book or other product to consider featuring on my blog, etc., you can send it to me at:

Maranda Russell
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

Please keep in mind that if you do send a book or product for consideration, I am most likely to feature ones that go along with the themes of my blog (art, writing, mental health/mental illness, chronic illness/pain, autism, etc). I am also a sucker for anything sweet (like candy) or cute and fluffy lol.

If you send something you DO NOT want featured on the blog or you wish to remain anonymous, make sure to let me know by enclosing a note expressing your wishes. I will be adding the pertinent information on this post to a separate blog page so that it will be easy to locate in the future if anyone wants to support this blog in that way.

My Future Fund (supported by art and book sales!)

Recently I have been having quite a bit of success selling my artwork and I am so thankful! It means the world to me to know that people love my art and want to support my creative efforts! I do have something special I am doing with the proceeds I get from my art and I wanted to share that, so that if you are purchasing my art, you will know how you are helping me in multiple ways.

As many of you know if you follow my blog regularly, due to worsening chronic mental and physical health conditions, it has been hard for me to work outside the home for a while. I am hoping to get my SSDI benefits at some point in the future, but it can take years for that to happen due to backlog. I in no way feel bad for going after these benefits since they are not charity or welfare, but instead are the very benefits I paid into for years. I think it is ridiculous how long many of us have to wait to get a real person to make a decision for benefits we worked hard for over many years.

Due to my trouble working, I constantly fear that were something to happen to my husband, I would eventually end up homeless once the little bit of life insurance ran out. It is a terrifying thought that haunts me every single day. I am not guaranteed eventual approval of my SSDI claim, nor do I have any way to know for sure when I will find out since I am still waiting for a hearing date to even be scheduled.

So, I figured that instead of simply living in fear every single day without taking any real action to plan for the future, that I could take small steps to try to do what I can to provide any measure of security for myself. I have decided to start saving every bit of money I get from my art sales and book sales, to hopefully help build a nest egg to provide a little extra help if someday I need it. I have also been adding extra cash here and there that I manage to save to the “future fund”.