“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.


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.

Just a Big, Black Hole


The last couple days have been rough. You ever felt like you were a giant black hole of emptiness and need that sucks the joy and positivity out of everyone and everything around you? If not, you are lucky. If you can relate, I’m really sorry to hear that because it is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad feeling. Luckily, I do have a loving, compassionate husband who was there for me to hold me and make me feel loved even when I feel the most unlovable. I also have good online friends who are always willing to lend an ear when I need to vent or get something off my chest, and that means the world to me (you probably know who you are if you are reading this).

Today is pretty nasty weather-wise, so we might be snowed in a day or two if we get as much snow and ice as predicted. Luckily, I am feeling a bit better mentally and am just enjoying watching the snow fall while my kitty cats cuddle around me and my husband watches Star Trek. I hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks for putting up with me!

* Art by Maranda Russell

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/.

Promotional Opportunity for Other Indie Authors and Artists!

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Hello everyone! This is a special post to invite my fellow children’s authors to take part in a new promotional opportunity! I recently opened a PO box for my YouTube channels, and want other indie authors to feel free to send physical copies of their books/book-related items to be featured on my YouTube vlog if they desire to do so! My vlog channel “Maranda’s Collectibles & Books” has over 1,300 subscribers and over 300,000 views on my videos! Any children’s or YA books/promotional items are welcome. All appropriate packages I receive I open on video and share with my audience (I try to read a bit of the back blurb of each book on camera as well if possible). I want to use my channel to help other children’s writers get their books noticed! Artists are welcome to send artwork as well (just make sure it is appropriate for a general audience)! If you wish to be featured, send a copy of your book (signed if you wish) with any promotional materials to:

Maranda’s Collectibles & Books
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

*If you want to include a little donation to help support my channel, that would be great too, but definitely not required!

By the way, I do have a second YouTube channel geared more for adults entitled “Spiritual Agnostic” which deals with religion/spirituality/philosophy/psychology/mental health. If you would like to send a book, artwork, or something else related to those subjects to be featured on that channel, you can use the PO box information above, but make sure to address it to “Spiritual Agnostic” instead of my other channel name. Please take a look at the channel first though to get a feel for the kind of stuff I typically cover, please note that most fiction would not interest me for that channel.

An open letter to churches and church people about chronic illness and pain

Lonely Leaf

To churches and church folks everywhere:

Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories from fellow chronic pain/chronic illness sufferers about mistreatment at the hands of the church or church people. Some of these people even end up losing their faith or abandoning church altogether because they are hurt so badly by the apathy or mistreatment they feel from their spiritual family. I myself have experienced some similar things in the past and I would like to make a few requests for all churchgoers to consider, especially those in leadership positions:

  • Please don’t ignore or mistreat those in your church with chronic illness or chronic pain conditions. Don’t think that just because they can’t always make it to church or participate in activities that they don’t want to. Don’t accuse them of just being lazy, selfish or antisocial.
  • Please do reach out to them by making a quick call, a short visit, connecting on social media or dropping a card in the mail once in awhile. If you have never had a long-term chronic illness or injury, you may not know how lonely, depressing and rough it can be.
  • Don’t think or comment that since they don’t look sick on the outside, they must not be sick or hurting. Many illnesses and injuries are invisible and even if a person doesn’t look like they are in pain, it doesn’t mean they aren’t. Many of us get so used to the pain that we don’t normally talk about it or even show it on our face anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t felt.
  • Remember that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can be just as devastating and debilitating as a physical illness. Also remember that depression and anxiety often accompany a chronic physical illness or injury, which can compound the problem and make it even harder for a person to function normally.
  • Don’t play doctor and tell us what you think is “really” wrong with us or tell us what we need to do to “fix” ourselves. Your intentions may be good, but most likely we have already visited various health professionals and tried anything and everything to try to fix the problem and find relief. If you constantly tell us what we “should” be doing, it can make us feel like it is our fault we are sick or in pain because we aren’t doing enough to try to solve the problem, which is normally entirely untrue. And NEVER insinuate that our illness/injury is caused by a lack of faith or that God is “punishing” us for one reason or another. First of all, that isn’t your judgement to make. Would you want to hear that when you are suffering? Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
  • Lastly, try to find a way to “include” us even when we can’t be there. Share photos on FB or by email with us of events we had to miss. If we can’t make it to a special dinner, bring us by a doggy bag of the yummy food we missed. Let us know we are missed, but don’t try to make us feel guilty for what we can’t help.