Back To School with Raincoast Books (Book Review)

 Summer is slowly coming to an end and with the uncertainty with the upcoming school year, I'm sure all of you parents are pretty stressed out right now, as am I. I'm chosing to keep my kids home to participate in distance learning and I'm fortunate enough to be able to be home to help them adjust. I know all of us are in different situations, so whatever decision you are making, there is no judgement as this is a stressful time for everyone right now. 

As I'm getting ready to prep for distance learning, I received another amazing package in the mail from our friends over at Raincoast Books to help get my six year old, Bailey, excited about the upcoming school year. One of the things we've done in our household with all of our children is have them read for 20 minutes before bedtime. It's a tradition we all love as we're all advid book readers in my home. We were sent two newly released children's books and one upcoming book to add to my six year old daughter's bookshelf. She's getting quite the collection and she absolutely loves to read. She's still learning, but gets better every day.

By: Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrasted by Frank Morrison
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
ISBN: 9781547602612
Pages: 32

Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! She hears the school spirit in the bus driving up the street - VROOM, VROOM! - and in the bell sounding in the halls - RING-A-DING! She sings the school spirit in class with her friends - ABC, 123!

The school spirit helps us all strive and grow. What will you learn today?

By: Zetta Elliot, illustrated by Noa Denmon
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
ISBN: 9780374307417
Pages: 32

Summertime is filled with joy--skateboarding and playing basketball--until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.

In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child's experiences following a police shooting--through grief and protests, healing and community--with washes of color as vibrant as his words.

Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers--children and adults alike--talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.

By: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: September 15, 2020
ISBN: 9781452137797
Pages: 80

If You Came to Earth is a glorious guide to our home planet, and a call for us to take care of both Earth and each other.

This stunning book is inspired by the thousands of childrenSophie Blackall has met during her travels around the world in support of UNICEF and Save the Children.

I had a blast reading along with Bailey as we read and explored each book and loved them all for many different reasons. Not only is each book beautifully illustrated by talented artists, each story was beautifully told as well. In the book, I Got the School Spirit, we see the main character excited about her first day of school. This was emotional for my six year old since we are doing distance learning this year, but she still loved the book and loved seeing the main character go through her first day of school and she can't wait until she is able to attend school in person again. 

Next we read A Place Inside of Me. This was another beautiful written story focusing on a young black boy dealing with all of his emotions that comes as a young black kid in America. Now more than ever, I really hope that schools worldwide have this book in their library available for all kids to read. This hit so close to home for us, as many of you know, we have family in the United States right now fighting for equality. This book teaches young kids everywhere to love themselves, to treat others as they would want to be treated because at the end of the day, we are all human beings. 

Lastly, If You Come To Earth. This book is set to be released in September and is inspired by children worldwide. This book is beautiful. Each page is filled with beautiful illustrations of people of every race, homes around the world, animals, the many different types of transportations and more. This book was a great book for Bailey to read. It not only helped her improve her reading, but this also helped with counting, finding the difference and similarities in different animals, people, places, things. Another great book that I know your littles will enjoy. 

Big thanks to our friends over at Raincoast Books for sending these amazing books our way to add to our library. For more infromation on where to purchase, be sure to head over to Raincoast Books.

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received the above mentioned books at no cost for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received

Q&A with Patrick Canning & Book Giveaway

The book is called Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning a suburban thriller sent in the late 1980's that should appeal to fans of Stranger Things and Big Little Lies. I'm a fan of both television series, so I'm pretty excited about reading this story.

Hawthorn Woods centers on Francine, who is reeling from a catastrophic divorce she just can’t seem to leave behind. She retreats for a two-week stay at her sister’s house in the picturesque town of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place to sort through her pain and finally move on with her life—but the tranquility doesn’t last long.

Beginning with a complete stranger throwing a drink in her face at her own welcome party, Francine soon discovers the supposedly idyllic suburb is hiding a disturbing number of mysteries. She quickly changes her vacation prescription from one of relaxation, to one of investigation, as she tries to figure out which of the smiling neighbors has a secret they’d kill to keep?

A perfect page turner to escape into during the summer months, Hawthorn Woods is sure to keep readers guessing at what’s happening behind closed doors.

I'm excited to share with you lovely readers of Just Us Girls, a Q&A with Patrick Canning, the author of Hawthorn Woods. Following the Q&A we're also hosting a giveaway for both our USA and Canada followers. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment sharing your favorite thriller book!


Question: Tell us what Hawthorn Woods is all about.

Patrick Canning:
The book is set in the summer of 1989 in a small, seemingly peaceful suburb of Chicago. It centers on Francine, who is recovering from a messy divorce. She decides to stay at her sister’s house in the suburb of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois for a change of scenery. What she thinks will be a peaceful two weeks to unwind and heal quickly turns into anything but. It all begins when a total stranger angrily throws a drink in Francine’s face at her welcome party. She soon uncovers even more mysterious people around the neighborhood and a lot of sinister stuff happening behind closed doors. The deeper she digs, the darker the secrets get.

Q: What inspired you to write Hawthorn Woods?

Hawthorn Woods is a real neighborhood where I grew up in Illinois during the 1980s. I wanted to revisit the magic of summer during that era, and also give readers a mysterious page-turner where they can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen next. While a lot of the setting is based off the actual neighborhood, all of the more horrifying mysteries are pure fiction. At least, that I know of…

Q: Who will Hawthorn Woods appeal to?

Canning: I think anyone who appreciated the mystery and drama of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and the 80’s nostalgia of Stranger Things will enjoy losing themselves in the quaint, creepy town of Hawthorn Woods. Readers who look for a twisty plot and dynamic characters in an interesting setting, will find plenty to like in Hawthorn Woods.

Q: Hawthorn Woods is a domestic thriller, but your other two novels, Crytopfauna and The Colonel and the Bee were both different genres. What made you want to write a thriller this time around?

Canning: The genres I write in are definitely eclectic. I basically choose whatever story I think I can write best at the moment. But whether it’s a thriller or a historical adventure, what’s important with fiction is creating a book that people can use to escape, explore, and grow.

PATRICK CANNING is the author of three novels, including Cryptofauna (2018), The Colonel and the Bee (2018), and his latest, Hawthorn Woods (2020). He has also published several short stories. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, following space exploration, and losing at bar trivia. Patrick lives in Los Angeles with his dog Hank, who some consider to be the greatest dog of all time.

Hawthorn Woodsis now available through all major booksellers and online via Amazon.
For more information, visit and connect with Patrick Canning on Instagram.

SheaMoisture Body Self-care Kit

Self care, something we as adults sometimes forget to do in the chaos of life. Although this pandemic has been scary, stressful and uncertain, it has allowed us to slow down a bit and not take life for granted, as you never know what tomorrow may bring. Most of us right now, who are parents, are deciding whether or not to send our kids back to school. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work from home and have chosen to keep my kids home to attend distance learning. If you chose to send your kids back to school, no judgement here. Everyone's family situation is different and you have to do what's best for you. 

Between worrying about the upcoming school year and Covid-19 in general, I have to say all of my time these last few months have been focused on my kids, making sure that they're doing okay mentally as they watch the world they knew, change around them. To say its been stressful is an understatement, as I'm sure all of you know. So I was very excited to receive a SheaMoisture Body Self-care Kit package in the mail last week to keep my spirits high and brighten up my day and it did just that. Included in the kit were a few SheaMoisuture products from their new collection:

If you follow us on Instagram, you'll remember us posting in our stories sharing what was all inside the kit as well as our last post talking about the products we received. I took the weekend to pamper myself and enjoy a little me time by using each product. What I love about SheaMoisture is that each of their products are aimed for certain skin types, which is located towards the end of their label. 

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Soothing Body Lotion is a soothing blend of African Black Soap and organic Shea Butter helps calm and hydrate dry skin. Oats and Aloe Vera help soothe. The oats help sooth skin while obsorbing excess oil, the aloe moisturizes dry sensitive skin and Vitamin E helps protect the skin. Aimed for people with troubled skin, apply to damp skin for moisture retention for best results. I absolutely loved this lotion. Not only is the smell divine, but I loved that although the lotion is thick, it's not heavy on your skin and it's not greasy. I use this lotion on my feet after I shower, to help with my dry/cracked skin and so far I am loving how it hydrates my feet. 

SheaMoisture Hemp Seed Oil Calm & Comfort Body Lotion takes your body care routine to new heights with this indulgent, creamy moisturizer. Specially blended with Hemp Seed Oil, Aloe, and Chamomile, this lotion will envelop your skin in soothing moisture. Hemp Seed Oil helps, all skin types, by moisturizing your skin without clogging your pores. Aloe, can help treat burns, acne and dry skin and Chamomile helps relieve itching by skin iritations.  When opening up this lotion and smelling it, you automatically get a calming sensation. The lotion is aimed for all skin types and is best used after a bath or shower, smooth lotion all over skin. For a calming ritual, use as a massage cream. 

SheaMoisture African Black Soap with Shea Butter Bar Soap is a soothing body bar soap made from palm and plantain peel ash and a combination of various oils which have been used in Africa for centuries to balance oily skin. SheaMoisture's African Black Soap combines Cocoa Pod Potash, Coconut Oil, and Shea Butter and should be used daily to help balance dry skin. African Black Soap, an honored beauty secret from traditional and age-old recipes in West Africa, is considered natural soap and designed to help calm dry-irritated skin. It is an ideal soap bar for skincare and a favorite of the house of SheaMoisture. The soap leaves skin soft and refreshed. A bar soap that leaves you feeling invigorated, cleansed and soothed is an ideal daily companion. I've used this African Black Soap over the last few days and it not only smells heavenly, but I love how it lathers up and how my skin feels clean and refresh. A soap I think I'll be buying for myself from now on as I'm loving how it makes my skin feel. 

Lastly we got to try SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Skin Renewal Recipe Body Scrub. This body scrub is aimed for dry, stressed skin. Renew your skin with this gentle, illuminating and exfoliating body scrub that buffs away dead skin and dirt while keeping skin conditioned. Its luxurious texture, infused with Manuka Honey, Yogurt and Vitamin C, leaves skin soft, smooth and new. By applying a small amount to palm, massage gently into skin using a circular motion, concentrating on rough and dry areas. Let the scrub sit on your skin for one minute to help condition and then rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry. I absolutely love the smell of this body scrub and love how it makes my skin feel refreshed after using it. 

Each of these products can be found over on SheaMoisture's website and can also be found in retail stores where SheaMoisture products are sold. This was such a great kit to receive to help me carve out some me time and rejuvenate before summer is over. 

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received the above mentioned products at no cost for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

BOOMERANG Fu For Xbox One (Videogame Review)


Slice and dice your friends with boomerangs in this action-packed party game. Join a crew of your favorite foods as you grill, chill and spill your enemies. Discover ridiculous power-ups and stack them together in deadly combinations to become the ultimate Boomerang Fu master.

Local Multiplayer Chaos
Roast and toast your friends in lightning-fast rounds of cute physics combat for up to 6 players. Perfect for parties!

Simple Controls
It only takes one stick and three buttons to pulverize your pals. Deflect attacks, recall dropped boomerangs, and curve your throws around corners to become a powerful boomerang assassin.

Stack Power-ups Together
Get the upper hand with a ridiculous range of powerups like explosive boomerangs, disguises and telekinesis. Then stack your power-ups together to form outrageous combinations!

We loved this game! My oldest child downloaded this game and instantly enjoyed the graphics and the background music. We thought the character choices were very creative and fun! This game has a 10+ rating due to the killing that is involved. Of course my child, took interest in the different killing graphics that varied with each character including many options to eliminate the opponent. 

The controls were simple to navigate and easy to learn as a beginner and there are different modes to switch up the gameplay including free for all, teams, and golden boomerang. The multiplayer option gives opportunity for a lot of fun for family and friends to enjoy together.

One suggestion my child had was different skins for each character to allow the player to customize their character. It would also be even more fun if the game included more goals or items to achieve as well as other challenges to complete to move up levels in the game.

Overall, this is a great game that offers fun and entertainment! It put us in a good mood and we enjoyed laughing at the characters and graphics. We would definitely recommend this game to fellow gamers!

BOOMERANG Fu is out today, August 13th on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received Boomerang Fu on Xbox One at no cost for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Atomicrops for Xbox One (Videogame Review)


Modern city life got you down? Well, you've just inherited your late uncle's farm, time to pack your bags and start fresh in the peaceful countryside. What could possibly go wrong? A nuclear apocalypse, that's what. Now you're in a hellscape wasteland defending the last surviving source of sustenance - your crops. And every mutant wants a piece. Do as any self-respecting farmer would: Farm. Marry. Kill.
Atomicrops is an action roguelite farming simulator. Armed with your hoe, a watering pail, and a simple peashooter, you must grow mutated crops - atomicrops - to feed the local town… and make a hefty profit. Defend your land from the mutant pests and bandits that invade nightly to ravage your fields. Court and wed townsfolk to fight and farm by your side. Gather upgrades and rescue captured farm animals to increase productivity, profits and power. Develop your farmhouse for persistent bonuses across playthroughs to help secure your place on the leaderboards.

If you're looking for a cute indie game to play, Atomicrops would definitely be on my top ten. It gives me a sense of nostalgia because of Terraria's similar style of NPCs, bosses, and mobs. But, some sort of Stardew Valley vibe with the farming aspect as your main goal. I absolutely love the currency in this game! As well as the options to 'haggle' or flirt with the shopkeepers. As a grinding based game, it hits all the right spots to keep you intrigued and for the player to keep playing. Will definitely continue to grind out this game.

FARM. Grow mutant crops and reap a bountiful harvest to sustain humanity… and make a huge profit.

MARRY. Woo and marry a kindred spirit from the local town to fight and farm alongside you.

KILL. Fight bizarre post-nuclear pests starving for a piece of your crops at night. Hunt and forage in dangerous surrounding biomes for seeds and loot during the day. Turn your enemies into fertilizer to increase your crops quality.

UPGRADE. Explore the far reaches of the biomes to find useful relics of farms long past. Discover rusty farm equipment, antique gardening tools, and tomes of how-to garden guides to increase your farming power. Spend your money in town to upgrade your gun and abilities. Permanently upgrade your farm house for bonuses that persist across playthroughs.

BEFRIEND. Recruit an entourage of pig pals, chicken chums and cow colleagues to automate farming tasks. Cultivating atomicrops is a tough job, you'll need all the help you can get.

I had such a fun time playing this game from start to finish and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new game to play. Now available, you can find Atomicrops available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC! 

For more information on Atomicrops, be sure to head over to their website.

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received Atomicrops on Xbox One at no cost for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

The Secret Garden Review & Giveaway


When Mary Lennox's parents suddenly die, she is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. While exploring, she discovers a hidden magical garden. 

Imagination, the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful. That's exactly what you get when you enter the world of The Secret Garden. I was very excited when I got the opportunity to watch this with my family recently. Based off the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, it's a remake from the 1993 movie that I remember watching as a kid.

Mary is a young girl who's sent to live with her Uncle Archibald Craven in England after her parents died. Her uncle is the husband of her mother's deceased sister. When she gets to her new home she's expecting to be treated like royalty, having servants do as she says, but gets a rude awakening that she is no longer the one in charge and there are rules to follow, one being to stay out of her uncles way unless he asks to see her. She's shown her room by the housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, and her first night in her new home, she hears screams and noises that she's not use to. When she is awaken she meets Martha, a worker in the home that is helping get Mary set for the day.

As she explores the property of her new home, she meets a dog and names it Gemima. One day while walking around the property and playing with her new friend, we see that Gemima gets stuck in a trap and hurts its paw. Mary helps Gemima out of the trap and as Gemima tries to head back home, Mary follows, climbing over a wall and finding The Secret Garden. I'ts a beautiful place that her aunt use to spend time in. 

Along the way she meets Martha's brother, Dickon, and the two become friends exploring the garden together. Dickon tells Mary that Gemima is a boy dog and also helps with the dog's hurt paw. They leave the dog in the secret garden for the day to see if she will better the next day.

One night she decides to follow the screams and noises she hears at night and is suprised to find a young boy in a room, named Colin. He is her cousin. She learns that he can't walk and the two talk about their mothers and about how Colin's dad has become a bit lost since the death of his wife and they blame the house for both her death and for Colin being in the condition that he's in.

Throughout the movie we see flashbacks of Mary's parents and their relationship with her. It seems as though Mary's mom was not well and soon we find out that she was depressed, grieving the loss of her sister, as they were close and best friends. 

When Mary and Dickon head back to the secret garden, they see that the dog is feeling a lot better and Mary has a plan to bring her cousin Colin to the garden as well. There the three decide to rename Gemima after Dickon's dad and name him, Hector. The three kids share stories and when talking about his mother, Colin is upset and wants to go home. 

We see Mary try to help her cousin use his imagination throughout the movie and have him talk about his mother, reliving both their mother's memories of their time together in the garden, even when he doesn't want to. She finds the room where all her late aunt's clothes, jewlery, pictures and letters are and brings Colin in there, but it's too much for him and he gets upset.

On the way back from the garden one day Mrs. Medlock shows her one of her aunts pearl necklaces and she is caught and gets in trouble for going into that room. She tells her she will be going to boarding school the next day and that night Mary runs away to the garden where Dickon and Colin find her and try to convince her that she can't just hideout in the garden forever when they notice smoke coming from the house. Running towards the house she runs in to get her uncle and she tells him that Colin is safe in the secret garden. After exiting the house the two, along with Dickon and Mrs. Medlock head to the secret garden where Colin is.

This was such an amazing movie that just warmed my heart, just as it did when I saw the 1993 version of the movie. I remember imagining that I had a secret garden to go to when I wanted to to escape the world and to be honest, I wish I had a secret garden to go to with the way the last few months have been. Since I don't I've made our backyard a place to go and enjoy the sun and relax. I love spending time outside, listening to some good music or reading a nice book. 

You can now enjoy The Secret Garden at home on digital and on-demand as it was released, Friday, August 7th and I'm excited to share that we've teamed up with Elevation Pictures to offer one of our readers (Canada only) a chance to win a digital Itunes/Apple TV copy of the film to enjoy. To enter all you need to do is comment what's been your secret garden these last few months with us all living in a worldwide pandemic.

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received the above mentioned title on digital at no cost for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

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Shimmer and Shine: Glitter Magic! DVD Review & Giveaway

There’s plenty of glitter to go around in the new sparkling DVD collection Shimmer and Shine: Glitter Magic! Arriving today, August 4, 2020, preschoolers can join Shimmer and Shine for fun magic-filled adventures as they meet the Glitter Genie, learn Glitter Magic and more. It’s time to glitter and glow in these seven sparkling episodes, including a double-length special. 

Shimmer and Shine: Glitter Magic! episodes:
All That Glitters
Glitter Glitch
Zahra-glitter Zahra-glow
Samira and Zeta
Volcano Drain-o
Grab That Gem
Crystal Chaos

My youngest is such a big fan of the show, Shimmer and Shine. Although she loves both beautiful and colorful genies, her favorite character from the show is Leah. And when we received the latest DVD, Glitter Magic! she was very excited to watch her favorite magical genies and Leah on their glittery filled adventures. The first two episodes are a double-length feature where we are introduced to glitter genie, Afina and her glittery pet, Gleam. Leah, Shimmer and Shine accidently stumble upon Afina's glitter castle while playing a game of i-spy.  Not long after we see Zeta and Nazboo flying after them finding the glitter castle too and eavesdropping just as Afina is showing the girls her glitter gem ring and how it creates glittery magic. Zeta and Nazboo steal the ring and take off and the genies, Leah and Afina try to find a way to stop them. A glittery fun filled epsiode and part two is where Afina is teaching Shimmer, Shine and Leah how to use glitter magic. She gives all three glitter gem rings and shows them some tricks to glitter magic by thinking hard, imagine what you want to make and pointing your ring to make it. The girls are loving their lesson and afterwards Shimmer wants to create more and takes all three rings and the magic gets a little out of hand. Both episodes, Bailey absolutely loved. Not only does this come with a double feature, but also with a total of seven episodes for your little one to watch and enjoy just as mine did.  

Shimmer and Shine: Glitter Magic! DVD is now available from Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment for the suggested retail price of $10.99. 

There's glitter galore in these a-MAZE-ing activity sheets, click on the image below to download and print out these glitter filled activity sheets for your kiddos to enjoy!


In celebration of the release of Glitter Magic on DVD, we've teamed up with Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment to offer one of our Canadian readers a chance at winning a copy of this DVD. All you need to do is comment below your child's fav character from the show!
Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received the above mentioned title on DVD at no cost for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.