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!!!

Kindle Direct Publishing’s New Reporting System and Some Author Updates!

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Yesterday I logged into my Kindle Direct Publishing account on Amazon and while looking at the reports, noticed there is a new “beta” reporting program they are working on that I could test (the picture above shows the new graphing, with part of the book breakdown below). I checked it out and it is WAY better than their old reporting program! It uses color coded graphs to plainly show which books you are selling, when you are selling them, and also easily separates books sold from “free” promotions vs. paid sales.

I am thrilled they are updating their system, because what they have had the last few years sucks in my opinion. It was hard to even tell which books sold! In other good news, while checking out the new system, I looked at my overall numbers from the last quarter and was pleasantly surprised to see that all together I’ve sold more than 230 ebooks (including promotions) during the last 90 days! Not bad for an indie author!!! It makes my heart happy to know that many people are reading my books!

If you use KDP publishing, I would recommend checking out the new program if you are able to under your own reports! By the way, if you want to check out my Amazon Author Page and maybe give it a follow, that would be awesome! I also have a FREE ebook promotion running today through Monday for my art ebook, “Stories Behind My Art” (if you like it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!)

Lastly, a few years back, I published a little short story/spiritual ebook called “Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham – A Parable about Love and Peace” under the name M.N. Russell ($0.99, FREE for Kindle Unlimited) . I decided to add that to my Amazon author bibliography, so you can check that out if you think it sounds interesting!

Water is Back! 800+ Blog Followers! Awesome Book Series!

Hey everyone! There were a few random things I wanted to share today. First, an update about my water heater situation….we now have hot water again! I can shower, I can brush my teeth, and I can flush the toilet again! Woo-wee!!! We are out almost $2,000 though, so that part really sucks.

Secondly, I want to thank you all so much for getting my blog to over 800 followers!!! That is awesome. I set a personal goal a while back to hopefully reach 1,000 followers by the end of the year and I might not exactly reach that, but I’m getting close and I appreciate all the support! You guys are awesome! You have no idea how much having communication with you all helps my mood and my attitude in general. You make me feel less alone and like I do have people in this world that care about me other than my immediate family.

Lastly, I want to share this awesome series of books with you all. If you are like me and you enjoy the children’s picture book format, but also have a sarcastic, wacky sense of humor, and a love for philosophy, I’m sure you will love this series just as much as I did!

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The series is called the Animalosophy series (written by Eric Kesselman and illustrated by Erica Missey) and includes the following books:

#1 The Existential Giraffe
#2 The Moribund Mouse
#3 The Perspicacious Penguin
#4 The Nihilistic Sea Otter

May 2018 My First Reading Club Subscription Box Review!

This month I did the May 2018 My First Reading Club unboxing and review on my YouTube channel (Maranda’s Toys & Books), so I figured I would post the video here in case anyone wanted to see which children’s books I got this month for only $9.99 plus S&H! This box is always SUCH a great deal! Definitely recommended for families!

 

Baby Doll, Toy, and Book Thrift Store Shopping Haul

This weekend I did some thrift store shopping! I found a few cute outfits for my new reborn doll (whom I decided to name Amelia after a character in a YA book I read recently called “A Tragic Kind of Wonderful”). For about six bucks I got these three outfits for her:

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I also found this cute preemie 3-piece giraffe and elephant set for only $5:

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Lastly, we went to a new bargain used bookstore, which sells bundles of children’s books (around 10 books for $5). Part of the fun of buying the bundle is that you can’t really see what all you get until after you buy it, so it is somewhat of a surprise when you open the package and see what all books you got:

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Of the books I got in this bundle, my favorites are the “Spooky Friends”, “Cinderella” (from the live action movie version), Elmo’s World, and the “Penguin Skating Party” ones. I also picked up the cute cloth alphabet blocks you see to the right of the books in the photo for only $.99 at the thrift store where I got the baby clothes.

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:

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  • 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):

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

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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!

 

A Chance to Support a New Children’s Book Publisher!

Hello everyone! Just a quick post today to share a new YouTube video from my toy & book channel. In this video I had the pleasure to support a new children’s book publisher who I am proud to even have an affiliate link with! “Grandpa and Me” is a fun family tale that teaches the value of hard work and persistence. Watch the video below to find out more!

Here is the affiliate link if you would like to check out the book further yourself or even order a copy: www.http://salutations365.com/affiliate-marandas-toys-and-books-036/.

Do the 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge with Me!

I decided to do the 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge this year! I have already started and plan to make YouTube videos each month to update which categories I have completed in the challenge. If you would like to do the challenge with me, please visit the official POPSUGAR page where you can print off a copy of the checklist. Don’t worry about whether you will be able to complete every category or not. This is simply for fun and to get all of us to read books we otherwise might not. You could even do it as a family if you wish!

Check out my first YouTube video for the challenge below!

National Young Readers Day – bedtime stories, my favorite childhood storybooks

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In honor of National Readers Day on November 11th, I was inspired by Casper, a new mattress company that makes latex and memory foam mattresses, to put together a collection of my favorite bedtime stories. As a child, I was lucky enough to have several family members who would often read to me. My grandmother probably read to me the most. She instilled a love of the written word in me before I could even write my name. My mother and older sister also took the time to read to me, creating warm memories I will always cherish.

Here is a brief list of some of my favorite storybooks back then:

1. I grew up on Little Golden Books and had quite a collection of them growing up. However, two Little Golden books really stuck with me. “Home for a Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown and “Prayers for Children” by Eloise Wilkin still bring a smile to my face whenever I see them in a bookstore or library. Cracking those books open takes me back to a happy, innocent time I often miss.

2. “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr. Suess. I had quite a few Dr. Suess books growing up, but this was always my favorite as a kid. I still flip through this book when I see it in my doctor’s waiting room. A couple years ago I even bought some pajamas featuring this Dr. Suess classic.

3. “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” by Arthur S. Maxwell. This was the book series my grandmother read to us over and over. It is a collection of children’s stories that focuses on Christian values. I always liked the stories with miracles in them the most. That was like magic to me.

4. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by the Brothers Grimm. My sister and I both loved Grimm’s Fairy Tales when we were young. We had an antique book with the entire collection in it. It was not an edited or abridged version, so I grew up listening to the classic dark tales in their entirety. To this day, I much prefer the original stories over the cleaned up Disney versions.

So what were your favorite bedtime stories as a kid? Feel free to comment and let me know!