Novel Reaction is excited to take part in sharing the kindness that is one of the great things about Christmas and to celebrate the release of Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber, one of my favorite authors. In the spirit of the main character, Julia, Novel Reaction has been asked to share an act of kindness and I thought I would share a little bit about two organizations that have come to touch my heart and that I help when I can.
Currently there are over 60 million refugees in the world, the largest in the history of mankind. These are individuals and families who have left everything they know: homes, jobs, friends, and family in the hopes that they can live a safer and happier life somewhere else. It is easy to see the stories on the news of the events taking place in Europe and think, as safe Americans, that it is too far away from where I am physically located and I don’t have a lot of extra income so what I have won’t make that much of a difference. But I have found two great organizations that are making a difference in people’s lives and that I can help when I do have a little bit extra.
The first is Liftng Hands International, they are a non-profit that has recently started taking care of a refugee camp in Greece. One of the things I really like about Lifting Hands, is besides being able to donate cash (which they use to supplement the military rations provided to the residents of the camp by the Greek military by purchasing fresh fruits and veggies for them), they also have a wish list on Amazon where I can go and pick out what I want/can afford to purchase that is needed by the camp and Lifting Hands ships it to the camp. I really like knowing exactly how I am helping the residents. Recently, the residents were asking for tea pots to make their daily tea in, such a simple comfort but they were having to make the tea in old baby formula cans, so I was able to donate $10.00 to buy a family a tea pot. I know it wasn’t much but hopefully it brought a little comfort to a family that is missing it. While Lifting Hands International has a website, more current information can be found on their facebook page.
The second organization is The Welcome to America Project, when refugees are given clearance to relocate to the U.S. they are provided an apartment for a set period of time and basic necessities. And by basic necessities I mean a bed and that’s about it. The Welcome to America Project gathers gently used furniture and other basic necessities so that families who have arrived with literally what will fit in the airplane luggage can have such luxuries as kitchen tables and chairs, couches to sit on, microwaves, and cleaning supplies. The Welcome to American Project accepts donations of money, furniture, or you can donate your time to help deliver furniture to a recently arrived family.
While it can seem that big problems exist in the world and there isn’t much that an individual can do to make a difference, there are simple acts of kindness that we can do that can make all the difference in someone else’s life. I want to challenge all of you readers to look around and find a simple act of kindness that we can do for someone else.
Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.
I have to admit I am posting this without having finished the novel, which is not like me. But this pregnant momma who spends her days chasing after a three year old in the triple digits of the Phoenix heat is struggling to stay up and finish Twelve Days of Christmas, although I really wanted to and have been enjoying the antics and interactions between Julie and Cain. The premise of the novel is cute and so great in the keeping of the true Christmas spirit and I love that Julia keeps trying despite who the first few acts of kindness don’t go over so well with Cain. If you are looking for a read to help you start to get into the Christmas spirit, Twelve Days of Christmas is for you.
You can read an excerpt here.
Title: Twelve Days of Christmas
Author: Debbie Macomber
Format: Hardbound, eBook
Page Nos.: 288
Publisher: Ballantine Mass Market Original
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Available for purchase: Amazon
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.
I want to wish all of you a happy Fourth of July! I will be spending the day with my family trying not to melt in the Phoenix heat (last year the fireworks at 9:00 pm was a 104). I will be trying to sneak some reading time in between the swimming, grilling, and fireworks. I love the Fourth holiday, for me it is a great time to reflect on the men and women who sacrificed so we can enjoy the freedoms we do. I also love it because it means time spent with my family: laughing, talking, arguing, but over all, making memories together.
What is everyone reading this holiday? I will be reading some Harlequins, it has been a while since I read any so I thought it would be fun to read and review a couple.
Joint Investigation by Terri Reed
Under other circumstances, FBI agent Samantha Bennett might welcome a bit of backup—but not from an overprotective Mountie. She’s been on the trail of a serial killer for six months and no one has ever taken the case seriously…until now. When Royal Canadian Mounted Police inspector Drew Kelley saves her life, he decides that the hunt for “Birdman” is his problem, too. Together they begin a cross-continent chase to stop the madman before he strikes again. However, Samantha fears her growing feelings for the lawman may weaken her focus, or worse—put Drew directly in the killer’s sights…
Northern Border Patrol: Keeping the U.S.–Canadian border safe
The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby by Deb Kastner
After years away serving his country, Cole Bishop finally returns home—with a newborn baby in tow. As a single dad, Cole needs help. But the last thing he expects to encounter at his new job is his high school sweetheart—all grown up and more beautiful than ever. Tessa Applewhite might have broken Cole’s heart years before, but she’s never forgotten him. And he can wrangle her heart like no one else ever has. But Tessa rejected him when the stakes weren’t nearly as high. Can Cole trust her again—and in the process, form a forever family?
Happy Holiday everyone!
Novel Reaction wants to wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Hopefully your day is filled with beautiful flowers, fabulous chocolates, and amazingly good novels! Mr. Novel Reaction will be traveling so we will be celebrating another night (okay, confession here, we started going out to dinner on another night six years ago because I get irritated having to wait a ridiculously long time for a table and at the time we were living in Utah where apparently they hadn’t heard of the concept of reservations) so I will be spending the evening curling up with a good book with the Olympics playing in the background (I am an Olympic junkie, I don’t watch that much television until the Olympics are on and then I am glued for the full 16 days). So what will you be doing to celebrate the day?
I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and received lots of new books to read. Sadly, I don’t receive books as gifts any more. Is that a gasp I hear from you?! Well, I used to receive books, mostly from my mother who has since passed away but now I get the same statement from everyone “I don’t know what you have already read so I got you a gift card to buy books.” Don’t get me wrong, I adore receiving gift cards so I can make my ridiculous to-be-read pile on my Kindle even larger. There is something so delicious about being able to log on and buy two or three books at a time without feeling guilty (okay, so I don’t really feel guilty I just worry the hubby is going to get annoyed and give that “you are ridiculous Jessica and have a serious problem that I will put up with for the rest of our marriage” look). Looking at the pretty new unread books on the Kindle just makes me warm and fuzzy all over but, this is a big but, it is not the same as receiving a book as a gift. Receiving a book as a gift is a multi-layer experience for me, first, there is knowing it is a wrapped book in my hands, a book that I have no idea what it is, all wrapped in shiny paper, tempting me to figure out what it is. Second, there is receiving a book from someone else, knowing that either they loved it and care enough about me to share that love with me or it is a book they think I will enjoy. I think sharing a book is a very personal event, it is almost like sharing your baby because what if they don’t like it? What if they criticize your baby? I realize that it can be tough to share and even harder to share ebooks (although ebook providers have made this easy but it can be intimidating to the non-techie). While I love receiving print books either as a gift or in the mail I do prefer reading ebooks, especially now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to balance my kindle in my hand while rocking him or feeding him (I don’t know how all you mommies did it before ebooks). I know that sounds like a problem, here I am complaining about not receiving print books and yet I am going off about preferring to read ebooks, it is a problem but I have decided I am okay with this dichotomy in my life.
As a result of my loving receiving books I have become the “book” aunt to my nieces and nephews, they know that any gift they receive from me will be a book I loved when I was their age. I LOVE discussing books with them, what did they love, what did they hate, what impacted them, children are so great about telling you exactly what they think about the book in such a free way that I am never offended if they don’t like the book I gave them. This year was fun for me because I got to pick out books for my new little guy. I realize that four months old is a little young for some books but I knew he was going to receive toys and clothes from the grandparents so I decided that most of the gifts from the hubby and me were going to be books. It was great! I loved mentally debating with myself over the merits of the Llama Llama series verses The Brown Bear finally I decided to go with some of my favorite books from when I was a child (and my siblings favorite, not a single title remains at my parents’ house, all of them mysteriously walking out the door after one of us had come to visit). The author and illustrator of these great books is Bill Peet, an animator at Disney for numerous years, his illustrations are engaging but it is his use of words and imagination that I love. He didn’t dumb books down for children but instead used all the fabulous words available to him to create fabulous stories, exciting adventures and heartwarming messages. I can’t wait to start sharing them with my little guy (and I may have read all of them before wrapping them, deliciously savoring each one like a long lost friend). I hope your Christmas was filled with lovely books and fabulous words.