Free Reviews for Indie Children’s Authors

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Lately I’ve missed reviewing children’s 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 children’s 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.

Here are the specifics if you are interested:

  • I DO require a physical copy of the book. Partly because I am not big on 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.

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 children’s author who would be interested, please share the link to this post!

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Party Like It’s Your Birthday…

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Yesterday was my 36th birthday! I had a great day! My mother and her new husband, Bruce, took me and my husband out to eat at Perkins where I had some delicious spiced pear and cranberry waffles, then we went back to my house and visited for a while. Those of you who follow my blog regularly probably know I have a rocky relationship with my mother at times, but yesterday was actually really nice.

My mom also gave me some gifts, including cash and all this stuff:

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The llama dances to the tune of “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and is so adorable!!!

After my mom and Bruce left, my husband gave me his gifts for me:

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The t-shirt is awesome since I adore black cats and that lyric is from one of my all-time favorite songs (by Simon & Garfunkel). The black skeleton candle and Hello Kitty card are big favorites too!

A good friend of mine also sent me a little care package which was extremely sweet:

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I’m looking forward to reading that book since the movie looks pretty cool too. And you can never go wrong with ponies and cats!

Overall, I had a great day! Thank you to everyone who helped make it special!

YA Book Review: “Without Tess” by Marcella Pixley

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“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.

The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.

I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!

What is Your Great Work?

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Recently I was reading a book about glamour magic. I read a lot of books about paganism and mystical spiritual paths, because even though I consider myself an agnostic, I also believe there are many, many things we don’t understand and I enjoy delving into the mysteries and deeper meanings found in spirituality and mythology.

Overall, the book was a bit of a letdown, it seemed fairly shallow in some ways, but I guess I should have guessed that since glamour magic itself is generally about surface level changes. However, there was one meditative exercise in the book that I did find meaningful. This part of the book emphasized the importance of figuring out what your great work will be.

As the book went on to explain, in order to get anywhere in life, you have to know what you are aiming for. You have to know what is most important to you in terms of achievement and meaning. You have to figure out where your energy, passion, and hard work should be directed. So, I meditated on this subject for a while and here are the three things I came up with that I currently would consider my own “great work” in this life:

  1. My writing/blog. Guess what? You guys are all a BIG part of my great work! I write because my soul cries out to share my experiences, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Having people who actually want to read about those things is truly a magical gift in itself!
  2. My art. I often feel insecure in my artistic abilities. I feel like there are so many artists out there that are far more talented and definitely better trained than myself, but I LOVE art and sometimes I genuinely love the stuff I make. My art may not be top of the line, but I do think many of my creations are unique artworks that only I could make.
  3. Advocating for others like me. This kind of ties into #1 and #2, since I often use my art and my writing to advocate for others who have autism, mental illness, or chronic pain/illness. People like me are often marginalized, ignored, looked down upon, and mistreated. I want to help stop that. I want to help the world to become a kinder, more empathetic place for those who struggle.

Now that I have shared my own great works in life, why don’t you spend a little time figuring out your own? You can pick just one, or you can have several like I did. Think deeply about it and question your purpose in life. If you would like to share what you come up with in the comments on this post, I would love to hear it!

Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

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Over the weekend my husband and I took a short vacation to Louisville, KY to celebrate our 15th anniversary and spend some quality time together. I did have a good time, but I must admit that I dread and sometimes even regret vacations just as much as I look forward to them.

Why? Simple. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Vacationing when you have CFS sucks. Big time. Planning the vacation wears you out. Packing wears you out. The travel wears you out. Even though I don’t do the driving, I am still exhausted by the time we even get to our destination. Often, as soon as we get to our hotel I immediately have to lay down for at least a couple hours to recuperate, even if it is only a 2 or 3 hour drive as this one was.

The main excursion we planned was to the Louisville zoo. We had never been there before and both my husband and I love animals. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge zoo, but by the time we had toured about half of it, I was in really poor shape. I had to sit on each bench we came by and rest. I even had to make do with the floor a few times and just collapsed. I was nauseated, felt like passing out, developed a migraine-like headache, and felt extremely overheated, even though it wasn’t that hot out and I stayed hydrated. Heck, most of the buildings were even air conditioned. THIS is what living with CFS is like.

I didn’t get to see much of the rest of the zoo. I was too busy looking for places to rest and recuperate for the trek back to the car. My legs ached so badly and felt so weak that I feared they would give out on me multiple times. My entire body felt like I had been run over or slammed into by something big and heavy. Somehow I did make it back to the car (after resting many, many times on the way there), and then we went directly to our hotel so I could recuperate for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have the stamina to go out for dinner a few hours later, so we ate at the hotel.

I went to bed early, hoping I would feel better in the morning, which didn’t really happen. The next day we visited a cool indie bookstore I had wanted to go to, but I was almost too tired to even enjoy that. We went and found a place by the Ohio River to sit and watch barges pass by, which was peaceful and relaxing. During the drive times to our locations, I curled up with a pillow and laid my seat back to doze.

By the time we headed back for home, I was too exhausted to care about much of anything. When we arrived home, I went almost straight to bed, even though it was only 5pm. The next day (Labor Day), my hip and back were so sore (with a pinched nerve thrown in), that I spent most of the day laying in bed watching a Lake Placid marathon on the Syfy Channel. Any form of movement was excruciating.

All of this makes me wonder if vacations are really worth the trouble. It also makes me wonder if maybe sometime soon I will need to get a motorized chair to even survive simple outings like this. I hate to give in and do that, but my worsening symptoms make it an almost certain possibility eventually.

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!

 

Nighttime Dread and “Quiet Borderlines” Thoughts

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I slept in until after 2pm this afternoon. I hate when that happens. I feel like most of the day is already gone by the time I get out of bed. I must have slept at least around 12 hours last night, even though I had a bit of an emotional fest when I actually went to bed. For some reason, all the loneliness of the world seems to settle down on me when I try to go to sleep and all the horrible things that have and could happen come around to haunt me. It is often at these times that I feel absolutely alone and helpless in this world, even though logically I know I’m not…at least not right now. But I could be. I could be all alone very easily and that thought sends me into a kind of despair I can’t explain.

Recently I have been reading a book entitled “Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder”. Reading the book has been insightful and interesting, and made me realize I am definitely NOT a traditional borderline. I simply don’t have the acting out behaviors. I guess I could be what some people call “quiet borderlines”, although sometimes I wonder if they are really borderlines or not?

Perhaps some “quiet borderlines” are actually more along the lines of Avoidant Personality Disorder or another anxiety-related personality disorder? Who knows. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say, but I do find so many commonalities running through various personality disorders, that even if you have one, pinpointing which one might be difficult and many people have traits of more than one. For me personally, I think I definitely fit more into the cluster C “anxious and fearful clusters” than the cluster B “dramatic and overly emotional clusters”. In fact, the only time I am visibly overly emotional is when I am so anxious I pretty much panic. Unfortunately this almost always seems to happen in public, because social interaction in itself can easily set off the panic in me.

 

I’m Back on YouTube!

I took three months off YouTube to focus on my written blog here and just because I was feeling a bit burned out making videos. Now I’m going to focus on my toy and children’s book channel (Maranda’s Toys & Books) as far as video-making goes, so if you guys are into that kind of stuff and want to subscribe to my channel there, please do so!

Here is my “comeback” video: