March 2019 OwlCrate Jr Subscription Box “Birds of a Feather”

I got my first OwlCrate Jr subscription box! This book box is for middle grade books and each month a theme is chosen revolving around that month’s book. This month the theme was “Birds of a Feather” and the book is The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo. I chose OwlCrate Jr instead of the regular OwlCrate box because I thought I might enjoy the middle grade books better than the YA books. I do love YA books as well, but well-written middle grade fiction holds a special place in my heart.

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Here is what came in the box:
– The book (obviously lol)
– Author-signed bookplate
– Letter from the author
– OwlCrate Jr monthly magazine
– National Geographic’s Ultimate Explorer Bird Field Guide
– Pineapple scented tropical birds stickers
– Flamingo gel pen
– Mini owl plush toy
– Parrot keychain
– Spoiler card and card for next month’s theme (which will be “Crack the Code”)

I loved this first box and am excited to see what else they send in the future! I’m halfway through the book and love it so far. It is a sweet, sad, and funny story about a pair of brother and sister parrots living in a pet shop. Right now I just got to the part of the story where the siblings are split up when one is adopted and it is breaking my heart a little.

I love the bird field guide, the owl plushie, and the flamingo pen. Plus, I’ve already made a couple ACEO collage artworks with the stickers:

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(Art available for sale on my Ebay store!)

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January/February Book Subscription Boxes – Kids & Middle Grade

Lately I’ve been trying random book subscription boxes just to try to figure out which one I want to get on a regular basis. For January/February, I tried the following two boxes:

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This first box was the January Book Drop subscription. I picked the middle grade option, although I was torn between that and the young adult option. This subscription box sends you one book per month (along with a card about the book and little extras like bookmarks) and is pretty cheap (about $10 including S&H for this shipment). The Book Drop is run by an independent bookstore, which makes buying it even better since I like to support small businesses.

The book they sent this month was Winterhouse by Ben Guterson. I really enjoyed this mystery novel! The main character is a book nerd and loves to do puzzles, just like me! I did figure out the plot of the book pretty early on though, so the mystery wasn’t all that hard for me.

Here is the second box I received, this one in early February:

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This box was from Kids Bookcase Club. It cost $9.99 plus S&H. You get three kids books a month. This was the 7-8 year old box. Out of the three books they sent, my favorite by far was Terrific by Jon Agee. This picture book is sarcastic and hilarious! I love the grumpy old man who is the main character! The Very Fairy Princess was a cute picture book, but not exactly my taste. The Animal Planet Dolphin Rescue book was a young reader chapter book and it was cute and interesting, but obviously a simple read. For next month’s box, I decided to up the age to the preteen box to see what kind of middle grade books they send.

For the upcoming month I am also trying out the Scribbler subscription box for writers and the SpearCraft Book Box (which comes with all kinds of cool reader goodies)! So stay tuned!!!

Poetry – Malice

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This little poem was inspired by a middle grade book series called “Malice” by Chris Wooding. I liked the world that was created, and decided to capture just a bit of it in poetry (my favorite line is the “mushroom lamps” one):

Malice
By: Maranda Russell

Take the evening train
into the cavernous abyss.
Light up the darkness
with your mushroom lamps
and a fist full
of round trip tickets.

Free Reviews for Indie Authors!

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Lately I’ve missed reviewing indie books, which is something I used to do frequently and even did as a paid gig for a while. That is why I am offering the opportunity for any indie authors to contact me for a review if they are interested. Why indie authors? Because I myself am one, and I know how much reviews and promotion of any sort matter to an indie author’s success. Types of books I am most likely to consider reviewing are art, poetry, nonfiction, and children’s indie books.

Here are the specifics if you are interested:

  • I DO prefer a physical copy of the book, especially if it is heavy on text. Partly because I am not big on reading ebooks, and partly because having the physical copy is great for sharing a pic on social media!
  • I will review the books on Amazon and Goodreads (if the book is listed on both sites), and will also share links or photos of the books on social media (all together I have nearly 8,000 followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook).
  • I may or may not share about the book here on my blog, depending on whether the subject matter fits my blog themes.
  • I DO NOT charge for reviews, although donations are accepted if the author is so inclined. Any donations will be used to help finance this blog or for social media promotional purposes. Donations of any amount can easily be made on this blog via the “Support My Blog” page, or donations can be sent via snail mail with the book being reviewed.

If you have any questions or would like to submit your book for review, please contact me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com. If you know an indie author who would be interested, please share the link to this post!

New Video about My New Children’s Book Release!

Hi everyone! I am excited to share my newest children’s middle grade book release with you all! I have been working on this book for a while now and am definitely proud of the results! “Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids” is goofy, funny and a little bit gross and creepy at times too! It is sure to appeal to kids, even reluctant readers! Make sure you check out my short vlog video about the new book:

If you would like to get a copy of this book for yourself or your kids, you can find the paperback version for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $6.99. There is also a Kindle ebook version available for $2.99! If you do read it or get it for your kids, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads or even just reaching out to tell me personally what you thought of it!

New YouTube Videos – Book Reviews and A Funny Letter from John Oliver

Hi everybody! I’m sorry it has been so long since my last post! Things have just been crazy busy! My mom was in the hospital, I have been interviewing for a part-time job at our local hospital’s new ER (which I got!) and I have been trying to help fight for my husband’s worker’s compensation case benefits (which has been a nightmare!)

Anyhow, I thought I would share a couple of my latest YouTube videos. First is a book review video, featuring some great middle grade reads for kids and families. The first book I review in the video was actually the book that made me realize I might have Asperger’s Syndrome and inspired me to seek a diagnosis, so it is a very important book to me personally.

The other video I am going to share today is a funny letter I received from John Oliver (host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”). I received the letter in response to sending $1 to John Oliver’s new “televangelism ministry” Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.

Hope you guys enjoy the videos! If you do, please subscribe to me on YouTube, I post lots of videos there that I don’t share here. I especially focus on Asperger’s Syndrome, book & toy reviews and junk food reviews on the channel. I also do other subjects occasionally.

The most memorable books I read during October 2014

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Starting this month, I am starting a new series of posts where I will list the most memorable books I have read in the past month and why they made such an impact on me. These aren’t necessarily “the best” books, but instead are the ones that really stuck with me for one reason or another. This list may include books for any age group or genre. I read a broad range of books, both fiction and non-fiction, so you never know what you may find in my monthly list! To get us started, here is my list of the five most memorable books I have read in October 2014!

1. The Flat Rabbit by Barour Oskarsson. This had to be one of the weirdest, least politically correct picture books I have ever read! It had me, my mom and my husband laughing out loud though. It is morbidly hilarious to see a rabbit flattened, then to see his neighbors scrape him off the road, attach him to a kite and fly him in the air. Not sure this is really a great book for kids, but it is hilarious for adults.

2. Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin. This middle grade historical novel stuck with me because it is the story of a child who grew up thinking Stalin and communism are the best things in the world, only to see how flawed the system truly is and how he has been led to believe things that aren’t true at all. To me, this idea that it is possible to fight for something you believe is right and then find out later that it is actually wrong is a profound lesson to learn.

3. History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky. This adult memoir struck a little too close to home, but then again, that is why I picked it up in the first place. Since I have also had a sister commit suicide, I could easily and sometimes painfully relate to much of what this writer had to say. The circumstances and details might be different from case to case, but anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide would likely see much of their own suffering and search for healing reflected in this memoir.

4. I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings & Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-44 by various authors. As the title states, this nonfiction book is a collection of poems and drawings that were created by children imprisoned in a WWII concentration camp. Some of the book is funny and cute, some of it is sad and depressing, but it all shows the innocence and strength of the children who were mistreated during this horrible time. It also shows the loss of life and joy this world suffered due to ignorance and hatred.

5. The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. This middle grade fantasy novel was a fun and enjoyable read. By the time I finished it, I was wishing to be a night fairy myself. I’ve always been a night owl anyways, so why not? Although the story starts out rather sad (with the fairy losing her wings in a terrible accident), things quickly start to look up and by the end of the novel, the little fairy is better off for the experiences she has had – both good and bad.

New children’s ebook published! “Petar: An inspiring story about an unexpected friendship”

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I just wanted to write a short blog post to let all my readers know that I just released a new children’s short story ebook! This ebook, Petar: An inspiring story about an unexpected friendship, is a heartwarming story about seeing past outward differences into the true heart of a person. The main character, Petar, is actually based on a real-life child that I met when I used to work as a teacher’s aide in our public school system. The courage and sweet personality of this child I knew made me want to tell his story. I also wanted to show how kind and compassionate many of the other children in his classroom were when it came to dealing with their classmate’s special needs.

Petar: An inspiring story about an unexpected friendship is geared for ages 7-11 (can be read independently or aloud). You can purchase the short story from Amazon for only $.99 per Kindle download. I hope you will check out my new ebook! If you do read it and enjoy it, please consider letting me know by leaving a review on Amazon!

Book Review – ‘The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe’ middle grade series

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It has been quite a while since I posted a book review, but I just love this new series so much I had to share my thoughts about it! So far, “The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe” book series (written by Gordon McAlpine and illustrated by Sam Zuppardi) consists of two published books. The first volume is entitled “The Tell-Tale Start” and the second is called “Once Upon a Midnight Eerie”. As you can probably tell already, the author loves a good play on words (as do I!).

I was initially drawn to this middle grade (ages 8+) children’s series while browsing the children’s department at Barnes & Noble. The cover and title of the first book immediately captured my attention because I have always loved Edgar Allan Poe. When I studied the book further, I found the premise quite original. To sum it up, the books revolve around Edgar and Allan Poe, twelve-year old identical twins who also happen to be the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of the famous horror/mystery author. One thing that makes these twins unusual (and help creates some of the drama) is that the boys have a telepathic communication ability and pretty much function as one person. In both books, there are significant threats to the lives of both main characters, so it is full of action, suspense and a touch of morbid humor for kids who like that kind of thing. Of course, since it is a middle grade series, Edgar & Allan always manage to foil their enemies and survive.

I think the best thing about this book series though are the parts where you get to see Edgar Allan Poe himself in the “great beyond”. It is hilarious to see our poor Poe having to work for the seemingly grumpy and narcissistic William Shakespeare in heaven. Poe constantly finds himself in trouble in heaven because he is always breaking the rules to interfere in the lives of his nephews on earth. Of course, being in trouble is nothing new to Poe, seeing as he was quite used to it during his earthly life. I also love how in the second book, Edgar and Allan are joined by a pair of twin girls named “Em” and “Milly” Dickinson, who happen to be the great-great-great-great-grandnieces of the famous spinster poet Emily Dickinson (more name puns there). I look forward to seeing which other literary greats (and their descendants) may be written into the story in the future.

I realize that not all adults like to read children’s books like I do, but I hope that if you have kids in the middle grade age range you will have them check out this series and see if they like it. I am hoping it will become popular enough to go on for quite a while because I want to keep reading it!