Tuesday, September 30, 2014

early christmas

"Sweet Christmas Kisses" is a collection of 14 different romance novellas.  All of the romances are at a PG  level.  The novellas are all written by a different best selling author.  I will give a review on two of the stories:  Mistletoe in Maine by Gina Baird and The Christmas Promise by Melinda Curtis.  Mistletoe is a fair romance.  It's fairly predictable and quick.  A divorced woman and her two children decide to go to an Inn in Maine for Christmas.  While there she meets the Innkeeper, who is a widower and father of a teenage son.  The group along with the innkeepers mother, her much younger lover, and an ex-girlfriend all share a magical Christmas in winter wonderland Maine.  Christmas Promise is a much better book.  It is quite humorous and the reader becomes much more invested in the characters.  In Promise, the "bon-bon heiress" goes to Ecuador to try to resuscitate her family's cocoa beans.  While there she meets an American former Army soldier who is walking for his fallen friend.  To make things harder, he only has one leg.  I liked this couple and the writing.  As for the collection as a whole, the stories are all....well, sweet.  Which is the point.  I would recommend this as a good read for someone who wants to take a little mind-getaway.  You can also feel welcome to leave it laying out, because it is acceptable for teens and preteens to read as well.  I received this e-collection for free in exchange for an honest review from Sweet Kisses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NEGU review

"Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her JoyJars" by Erik Rees is a heart breaking, gut wrenching, amazing book.  The book follows Jessie Rees, a young girl with brain cancer on her 13 month battle.  It is told by her father, Erik.  He holds nothing back.  He is completely honest in the journey.  The book not only has a life changing topic, it is also written very well.  This is not just a book by a dad, but a book by a writer as well. 
This is an incredibly hard book to read.  It is so emotionally difficult.  When I agreed to be on the review team, my thoughts were that I could see how my husbands childhood with leukemia was like.  But there were too many years and science has advance so far, that there was little similarities.  However, I am the mother of a 9 year old with a life threatening heart condition.  So there were many things that I could relate to.  If you were to read and think he was exaggerating in parts, I can tell you he was not.  There were so many things he described that I had done myself.  Losing a child, or preparing to lose a child is the worst experience anyone can ever have. 
I received this book in exchange for an honest review and promotion from Handlebar Publishing.  I easily give it 5 stars.  This is a book you must read.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

this is how review

"This is How I'd Love You" by Hazel Woods is a novel centering on two pen pals during WWI.  Hensley lives with her father, a newspaper writer who plays chess via post mail with Charles, a privileged man serving as an emergency driver on the fronts in Europe.  As the two carry on the long-distance chess game, Hensley hijacks one of the letters and writes in the margins to Charles. The two being their own correspondence and quickly form a close relationship.  Shortly thereafter, she discovers that she is pregnant. The father is an actor that lied and used her to get his way.  As the two live separate lives, the novel follows them. 
This is a very interesting novel.  The ending is a bit predicable, but the storyline is well written.  The characters are a bit dramatic, especially Hensley, but keep in mind she is only seventeen.  Charles is every woman's dream man.  The research on gas use is especially intriguing.  I give it a B+.  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from First to Read through Penguin.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hear me roar!

"Roar: The New conservative Woman Speaks Out" by Scottie Nell Hughes, Director of the Tea Party News Network, is the author's view of the modern Conservative woman.  Hughes writes of the compare and contrast of the Democrat Woman and the Republican woman.  First, let me state that I am a Libertarian, which means Liberals think I am Conservative and Conservatives think I am Liberal.  So this is a fairly unbiased opinion of this book.  Secondly, this will be a review of the book and her writing rather than her views and opinions.  They are hers and she is entitled to them; I will be judging how she writes them. 
The book is well written; well researched; and well thought out.  She know what she wants to say and tries to connect with other women in how she says them, especially mothers.  Many of her points are valid.  She makes her points and then backs them up with research.  However, this book would have been much more enjoyable if it were not so "us vs. them".  She goes out of her way to compare the two parties' women when I would rather she had stuck to making the points of her own viewpoint.  She tends to lump women of each party together rather than have them stand as individuals.  I give it a B.  I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Worthy Publishing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

miracle in dry season review

"Miracle in a Dry Season" by Sarah Loudin Thomas is a Christian novel told through the eyes of Casewell, a 35 year old bachelor living in West Virginia in 1954.  A new woman with a 5 year old in tow comes to Wise, WV and catches the eye of the town's leading bachelor.  Soon after Perla arrives in Wise, a drought strikes the area and leads the local preacher to blame Perla for the drought.  Seems to think it is punishment for having a child out of wedlock.  Then the witch hunt is on. 
This book was a hard book to get into.  I never really came to care much about the characters.  The witch hunt seems a little ridiculous for 1954; more for a 1354 era really.  The book is well written.  Characters seem well developed.  The writer just could not bring me into the story. The cancer storyline was deeper and more realistic.  I give it three stars.
  I received this book in exchange for a review from Bethany House Publishers.

Monday, September 8, 2014


"Seeing America" by Nancy Crocker is an excellent book.  It is the telling of three 1910 high school graduates from a small town in Missouri that decide to travel from Missouri to Yellow Stone.  Not that that might not be adventure enough, but one of the them is blind and is also the owner of the Model T that they plan to travel in.  The three boys aren't exactly friends, but in a small town everybody knows everybody and there aren't a lot of options when it comes to buddies.  So the three set of in search of themselves. 
The travel methods of 1910 are much different than today.  Lack of roads, hotels, money other than cash made even a few days of travel an adventure.  This book is not only full of action, but it is funny!  Like peeking into the brain of a teenage boy.  Which is weird since the author is a woman and must be older since she sang with Loretta Lynn.  This is a really good book and I highly recommend it.  I received this book in a drawing from www.librarything.com.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Contact: Vicky Lynch  |  E: vicky@handlebarpublishing.com  |  P: 630.362.8829  |  W: HandlebarPublishing.com



Erik Rees 


  1. Never Ever Give Up is immensely personal. Why is it important to share your daughter’s story?

 I had three goals for sharing Jessie’s story; increase awareness of childhood cancer, give people facing personal hurdles in life hope and to create a wave of compassion through personal acts of kindness.


  1. Where did Jessie come up with the idea of creating JoyJars? Why did she do this, instead of focusing on herself? 

Jessie came up with the idea after she started treatment and learned there were lots of children that couldn’t leave the hospital.  She just had a burden for them and wanted to help them.  The name actually came from taking her middle name “joy” and adding it to “jars”.  She choose to spread joy because she knew life was about giving not getting. 


  1. How did making the JoyJars, not only help others, but also begin helping your family?  JoyJars gave Jessie a sense of purpose during her fight with cancer.  She loved filling each one and sending them out to kids.  She really loved seeing pictures of kids holding her JoyJars on Facebook.  Our entire family helped Jessie with JoyJars and today we still stuff “joy” as a family in her honor.


  1. Tell us about the Facebook page Jessie created. How did social media help Jessie throughout battling cancer? 

We needed a way to keep people updated on Jessie’s condition so we were going to create a CaringBridge page but she didn’t want one so we suggested Facebook.  She was okay with Facebook and started sharing her daily journey with people she had never met.  Her Facebook fans become like family to her as they sent daily notes of encouragement and prayers.  Jessie felt very alone and physically limited during her fight so her fans made her feel loved.


  1. You did not fully share the extent of Jessie’s illness to your other two children. Do you think this was the right move? Why? 

Every parent has to make decisions that they feel are best for their children.  Stacey and I felt it was best to hold on to the fact God could heal Jessie at anytime.  In addition, we wanted everyone living with “hope”, which is a very powerful thing in life no matter what age.  Was it the right move? After talking with Shaya and JT afterwards they were both thankful they didn’t live with this dark cloud over their lives each day.  They did an amazing job loving their sister and being there for her.  Looking back, we wouldn’t have changed a thing.



  1. How did your kids handle their grief? What advice do you have for parents who are dealing with a tragedy? 

Grief is a powerful emotion that everyone processes differently. Some get quiet and some get loud.  Our job as parents were to simply walk with them through their grief and let them know we were there for them no matter what.  My only tip for parents is don’t hide your pain from your kids.  Let them know you are hurting too and together with God’s help you will all heal.


  1. Jessie had a strong faith in God. How did she draw strength from her relationship with God during her treatment?
     Jessie did have an amazing faith in God which inspires me daily.  She would pray for herself, listen to worship music during treatments and do her nightly devotions with her mommy.  She drew her strength from Phil. 4:13 and asked God daily for support.


  1. Many of your friends and family members walked along side of you during this difficult process. How did this help? 

Jessie was blessed to be part of a great school, church and swim team which provided her and our family wonderful emotional, spiritual and practical support.  After Jessie moved to Heaven, we didn’t have to cook a meal for four months. 


  1. Unfortunately, cancer strikes 1 in 300 children before the age of 20. What advice do you have for others who want to help a family with a child fighting cancer? 

 In the book I list all sorts of simple ways to help families with children fighting cancer.  Families need help but don’t want to have to add “managing” the help to their already chaotic lives.  The best thing to do if you really know the person is show up and do something.  Don’t ask, “how can I help you?”  Just help.


  1. Over 80,000 JoyJars have been distributed internationally. How have you accomplished so much in such a small time frame?
    We are actually nearing 100,000 JoyJars in all 50 states and 28 countries.  We just received a request from Lima, Peru.  Social media has been the best channel of communication for us.  Jessie simply just started at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and it grew week by week. We now partner with over 275 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.


  1. How did your experiences with Jessie’s illness strengthen or challenge your faith?  During Jessie’s fight it strengthened my faith as I depended on God to give me the wisdom, strength and peace to walk with Jessie and the family.  I truly thought He would heal her physically.  Unfortunately, God choose Heaven as a means of healing which challenged my trust in Him for months.  Now, Heaven has never been more real to me and I can’t wait to spend time in eternity with Jessie and my Heavenly Father.


  1. Do you have advice for other Christians who may be questioning God’s plan? 
    I don’t know if I would call it “advice” but I would let them know they are not alone in their feelings. I questioned God many times and still do.  I don’t question His love for me or Jessie.  I questioned His choice in using Heaven as a healing agent.   But now that time has past, I see His plan.  Jessie was an Angel sent to Earth with a message (Never Ever Give Up) and a mission (childhood cancer).  How else can you explain how one twelve year old girl, fighting cancer, choose to give to other kids and started a global movement of compassion that has raised millions of dollars to “care” for children/families fighting cancer around the world.  My only answer is, God had a plan!
    In addition, I would encourage them to realize God’s plans don’t always match up to our own plans but He is still a loving and caring God.  Faith in God is all about “believing” in our hearts and heads that God loves us no matter what and when we fully depend on Him, He will show us the way.


  1. Tell us more about the Jessie Rees Foundation. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. How can we help? 

The Jessie Rees Foundation is a global childhood cancer charity dedicated to ensuring every child fighting cancer has the support and resources to Never Ever Give Up.  We fulfill our mission by 1) encouraging courageous kids to NEGU, 2) assisting courageous families to NEGU, 3) rallying communities to NEGU for courageous kids, 4) mobilize athletes to NEGU for courageous kids and 5) inspire the world to NEGU for courageous kids.


Each year in the US, the month of September is dedicated to “childhood cancer awareness”.   If you have a social media platform, please join our Going Gold campaign and help raise awareness of this devastating disease.