Happy Birthday to Me! Oh, and books for kids.

Today is my birthday and the last day to help me give away some of my new children’s books. All four books, in both print and digital, are available for sale at their regular retail prices plus tax and or shipping. I do so hope you will consider granting me my birthday wish before it’s too late.

The image below is a screen shot. Click to learn more and visit links containing book trailers for my new books.


Chip and Skip Need Each Other
2.99 Kindle ebook –
9.99 Createspace paperback –
Print available on Amazon soon.

What Does Joe Need?
2.99 Kindle ebook –
9.99 Createspace paperback –
Print available on Amazon soon.

Plants and Animals Change Over Time
2.99 Kindle ebook –
9.99 Createspace paperback –
Print available on Amazon soon.

Land Changes Over Time
2.99 Kindle ebook –
9.99 Createspace paperback –
Print available on Amazon soon.

For individual purchases, without Prime, Createspace may be better on shipping. Also, I make more off those sales. 😀

Zootopia #TheToiBoxOfWords #film #review

So, in case you don’t know, I’m going it alone with my monthly movie reviews from now on. This is my first solo effort. It’s mostly the same review I’ve been doing with some minor changes. I’d love for you to leave comments or responses to any of the questions I pose. Thanks for sticking with me through this transition.

If anyone is interested in my experience of watching Zootopia, click here to see my notes.

This review will consist of me asking myself 10 questions and answering them to the best of my ability.


1. What is this film about?

In an animated world where mammals are the peoples of the world, mammals have evolved. Predators and Prey live together in harmony, mostly. At the center of this utopia is the great metropolis of Zootopia. It’s a city, a jungle, tundra, and more where a bunny has a chance to live out her dream of becoming a police officer. When the country bunny hits the big city, she quickly learns that Zootopia isn’t the Mecca she hoped it would be; plus, there’s a mystery to be solved to which no one believes a bunny can do.

It took me a while to realize that there were no reptile, bird, or other talking animal characters. At least I don’t think so.

2. What did I think of the title, poster, and or trailer?

I’m really disappointed that I missed this in the theater. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. I remember thinking the movie looked cute; plus, I love animals and figured that there was probably some great social lesson to be learned in the end. But if I’m being totally honest, the main reason I wanted to see this was because of the Sloth clip.

3. What did I think of the main character(s) and how the actors performed them?

I thought the voices fit the characters well. I especially thought Bateman, Idris, and Slate fit their characters perfectly. I know there must be a lot that goes into making a voice come alive and match up with an animated image, but for me, it’s hard to judge whether or not they really performed well. I either like the match or I don’t.

4. What did I think of the direction and cinematography?

Again, when it comes to animated movies, I don’t know how much cinematography makes a difference, but in terms of direction, I get it. Someone has to decide if the voices sound right and match up, someone has to make sure what’s going on the background applies but doesn’t detract, etc… I’d say Byron Howard and Rich Moore did a great job conveying so much emotion in such a lighthearted setting.

5. What did I think of the soundtrack and score?

I enjoyed the soundtrack and score. They seem to go together well; songs coming in at the right moments that were built up by the score. I liked the use of popular music and the original song performed by Shakira.

6. What did I like about the story as a whole?

I thought the best part of the story were there not-so-hidden social messages that overflowed in this story. I could see small children missing some of them, but any adult who didn’t pick up on these messages were in denial. Themes of racism, bullying, discrimination, stereotypes, and more filled this story and I truly appreciate that.

7. What did I not like about the story?

Even though I saw it coming, I didn’t like who the villain ended up being. I understand that it was all a part of teaching the lesson that we humans still haven’t learned. Oppression will eventually make some people angry and desperate in dangerous ways. We have to stop keeping people down.

Without giving too much away, I wish the movie had addressed some ways in which the Zootopia community was going to keep other “underdogs” from doing crazy stuff like the  villain did.

8. Would I recommend this movie to others and what would I rate this movie?

Yes, I would totally recommend this film. Even if viewers don’t get the social messages, it’s very entertaining. I did actually LOL a few times.

On a scale of 1 to 5 movie reels, I give this film 5 reels.


9. Is there anything I would have changed or done differently?

I think I would have tried to include the entire animal kingdom, but who knows; there may be a very good reason Disney didn’t go there with this story.

10. Was there anything in this movie that could be related to me or anything I have written?

I have not yet attempted a tale with talking animals as the main characters, but I’d love to give it a try. In any case, I do often slip in some sort of social message in my writing; sometimes I do it without even realising I’m doing it.

Watch, rent, or buy this movie here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Review: CassaFire #sci-fi #book


Title:  Cassafire

Series: Cassastar #2

Author: Alex J. Cavanaugh

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 240

Reading Level: Adult

Content: PG (military subject matter, some violence, & adult situations)

After reading book one in this series, I needed a break. The first book caught me off guard. I had no idea it would be so emotional. I fear I may have waited longer than necessary, but the wait was totally worth it. Like the first book in this series, this sequel has its action packed moments, psychologically challenging struggles, and of course, its gut wrenching moments of joy, sorrow, despair, and then hope.

In CassaFire, we find our hero, Byron exploring the known universe in the service of scientists. To put it plainly, the world’s greatest combat pilot is a taxi driver for smart people. Of course, we know he’s doing this to fulfill a promise he made to Bassa, from book one, but what we don’t know is just how exciting space exploration is about to become for the not-quite-middle-aged pilot.

This installment of the Cassa series does two things right away that as a fan of this world pleased me to no end. It brought in more galactic races and it uses more “special abilities” or powers. The geek in me loves that Cassians can’t live without their telepathic abilities and it’s interesting to see how these abilities are perceived by others in the universe.

Author Cavanaugh does an excellent job of touching on some very sensitive subject matters without bringing the story down or belittling the subjects’ importance. He touches on subjects such as: racism, superiority and right, colonization, choice vs duty, and more. There is even a slight, yet significant romance to keep you wondering what will come in the future.

I think this book is suitable for all readers, though younger children may not understand some of the deeper points and those averse to sci-fi themes may have trouble seeing beyond the setting to appreciate the true message of this piece, which I believe is love and loyalty grounded in personal experience and not simply tradition and duty.

See my review of CassaStar here.

I give this book a 5.


This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like a Kindle copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Get a print copy with free international shipping at this link: Book Depository.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG October 2016: When is your story ready, in case you missed it, & #book drive donations.


Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: When do you know your story is ready?


The smarta$$ in me wants to ask the question, “ready for what?” When is your story ready for sharing, ready for editing, ready for publishing? Who knows… I guess, for me, this question is asking when is your story ready to be shared with others, whether on a blog, in a message to a select few, or with an editor in preparation for publication.

This is a tough one. I don’t always know in the same way for each story. Sometimes the story is ready only after it’s been self-edited enough. Sometimes it’s ready when the story feels complete and satisfying in a way that I no longer feel I need to add to or improve. Sometimes the story is ready when I’m tired of working on it. It really depends on the story and where I am emotionally.

And now on to the updates and in case you missed it.

This blog has been through so many changes over the years and I’m not in a place where I want it to change again, but it may have to. Some of the blog hops I participate in are either ending or changing and I’m feeling anxious. My movie review hop is ending, but I’m still going to try to review one movie a month. I feel like the love of cinema is an important part of me and my creative process that I should share with anyone who might want to know something about me from reading this blog. Also, the Question of the Month and Flashback Friday host has decided to walk away from those hops for good and personal reasons. I’ll miss him and am curious to see what direction these hops will take now that he’s seeking replacements. I threw my name in the hat, but I’d be happy with whoever he chooses. I just want these hops to continue. I really enjoy them.

So…now… let me choose my words wisely. Amazon(dot)com and I had a bit of a tiff recently. I’m seriously considering publishing my email correspondence with them as a free PDF download on this blog for anyone who’d like to read them. They are shocking, sad, and terrifying all at once. If you want to know the summary of our tiff, check out the article I wrote about it last week, by clicking the image below.


I mentioned it before and here’s the results. I’ve updated all my books and am ready to release my children’s books on my birthday. If you have a moment, please enjoy my unboxing video.

And last but not least, I’m trying a wacky campaign that may not go anywhere, but since I’ve only shared it with family and friends so far (I don’t count Twitter), I won’t feel too bad if no one supports it. I’m used to my family and friends ignoring anything involving my writing, excluding my mom and a handful of others who are my biggest supporters. Again, if you have the time, I’d love for you to check out my campaign video.

Don’t say it enough; thanks bunches for visiting this blog and reading my babble.


When is your story ready?
Do you handle unwanted change well?
Ever had a tiff with Amazon? Should I publish my emails?
Any thoughts on my new children’s books?


After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Beverly Stowe McClure,
Megan Morgan,
Viola Fury,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Angela Wooldridge, and
Susan Gourley!


Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #71).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Question of the Month: a #bloghop to think about. No. 16- What logical decision have you made that’s left you with #regret?

A little while ago, Michael D’Agostino, of A Life Examined, brought up the idea of a new blog hop called Question of the Month. He thinks blog readers would like to know a little more about us, the bloggers. So we’re all gathering to show you guys who we are by taking part in the Question of the Month blog hop. On the first Monday of each month, we answer the question that gets posted here.

This month’s question is: “What’s a decision you’ve made in the past that you know, logically, was the right decision to make, but which you still feel guilty or regretful about?”

This is a pretty deep question. I don’t want to shy away from it or not give it my full consideration. I’m just not sure if I have anything that really stands up to this.

In my mind, this question is a matter of making a correct choice that doesn’t maybe feel right or hurts someone along the way. Example; a manager makes the choice to fire someone who comes to work a little late every day and is the lowest ranked sales rep, but who is also the nicest person in the department and a really hard worker. The manager has to let someone go, but they still feel bad about it. I just don’t know that I’ve had to make any decisions like that.

I guess the closest I’m come to something like this would be letting go of certain attachments and friendships. I’ve had to do that at different times in my life and I always feel bad afterwards. In retrospect, it’s obvious that I made the right choice because my life is less dramatic and more peaceful overall without those people in it. At the time, though, that I ended those relationships, it was me being the bad guy, telling the other person they needed to change or walk away.

It takes a lot to tell someone that they are toxic and that their choices and or behavior is harmful. No one likes to feel that they are less than anyone else, but when someone says, “You gotta change,” how else could you possibly feel. So, I did the right and logical thing, but I still feel bad.

Please visit the other participants in this hop and even join in if you’d like. I’m curious to see if I interpreted the question correctly. I also wonder what kinds of responses others will share.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords