Category Archives: Book Reviews

Monday Madness! Free Book: The Meeting of Anni Adams: The Butterfly of Luxembourg

So with Labor Day yesterday, I didn’t get time to post my Monday give away…but better late than never!

The Meeting of Anni Adams: The Butterfly of Luxembourg written by Lonnie D. Story is this week’s free book. This is actually an inscribed copy that Lonnie sent me back in 2007. From the back cover:

Born November 11, 1926, Anni Adams grew up traveling throughout central Europe with her professional gymnast father. By the age of fourteen she had been throughout Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, and France. Then came Nazi invasion.

Everything Anni had known came unraveling at the seams. Evacuated from Luxembourg, she survived the poverty, humiliation, and uncertainty of refugee camps following the German occupation of her homeland. She eventually returned to her home and the submissive lifestyle of the Nazi rule, which she quietly resisted for more than four years.

Author Lonnie D. Story skillfully interweaves a riveting account of Anni’s life story and the history-in-the-making events that surrounded her. Throughout her long and successful life, Anni has had great tragedy and suffering. The Meeting of Anni Adams is a true story of survival and the American dream come true.

All you have to do to get it is one of the following. I will say that the more of the following you do, the more times your name will be entered into the drawing!

1. Like this post on my Facebook page, Melissa’s Idea Garden.

2. Like my Facebook page, Melissa’s Idea Garden.

3. Share this post on your Facebook page.

4. Like my Facebook page, Police News Blotter – a website  full of good police news!

5. Leave a comment on this post.

6. Leave a comment on a post on Police News Blotter.

Just in case you aren’t the lucky winner, but you are interested in reading the book!


Monday Madness: Book Giveaway! Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back by Ray Buckley

Welcome to Monday Madness. The place to be for your chance to win this week. You can get entries into the giveaway by doing one or all of the following. The more you do, the more entries you receive!

1. Receive one entry for liking my Facebook post.

2. Receive one entry for sharing the Facebook post.

3. Receive one entry for commenting on my blog (Melissa’s Idea Garden)

4. Receive five entries for liking and leaving a comment on my new Facebook page Police News Blotter (three entries if you just leave a comment).

5. Receive five entries for liking and leaving a comment on my other new Facebook page Melissa’s Idea Garden. (three entries if you just leave a comment)

The contest is open until Thursday midnight, Eastern Time. On Friday, I will draw a name and I will mail (or hand deliver) the book to the winner.

This week’s give-away is for “Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back” by Ray Buckley. This is a Lenten Study for adults. It had been in my stack for a while and it floated to the top, so it was time to read it (Lent season or no). Ray Buckley is a professional Native American storyteller who uses his storytelling gift and his Christian beliefs to bring alive the Word. I found this study to be chock full of enlightenment, stories, and a reminder that God is always inviting us to dance – no matter what the circumstances are.

If you’d like to own this book for free, just follow the guidelines above for a chance! If you don’t win, you can always purchase the book for yourself.

Book Review: It Starts With Food by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig

Last spring my blood pressure was going up, I was 85 pounds overweight and I felt miserable. I decided I needed to do something drastic, but within parameters. I have tried a hundred other diet plans over the years only to end up frustrated and back where I started. I don’t like logging every bit of food I eat. I don’t like weighing everything. And I needed a plan with no wiggle room.

If you have fought with weight loss, you know what I mean. “Cool, I get 27 points a day…I will eat as many sweets as I can fit into that and then I will fill up with no points veggies.” This does not make for a healthy eating lifestyle! I had a friend who was following the Paleo lifestyle (please – not one caveman joke…I get enough of those from my husband). She had lost a lot of weight and had posted on Facebook about all of the energy she had and how good she felt. I reached out to her and asked for a book recommendation of where to start for recipes. She told me it is really pretty easy – no dairy, legumes, grains, sugar and eat the highest quality meats, veggies, and fruits that you can. Hey, a point in it’s favor – No wiggle room! She recommended a couple of great cookbooks like Well Fed and Well Fed 2. I also picked up Paleo for Beginners, Against the all Grain, and Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook (links below). And I found the Paleo Grubs website.

I got busy reading – it is truly a simple diet. There is no measuring, no counting, no logging and no wiggle room. I have lost 27 pounds since April and that is even though I have traveled quite a bit this summer and haven’t always been able to strictly follow the plan (couldn’t turn down Aunt Brenda’s cake or Cold Stone Creamery on my birthday now could I?) Anyway, I digress. My reading led me to It Starts with Food and in a way I wish I had started here.

In this book, I found out how different foods I eat affect my body and my body chemistry. Dallas and Melissa do a great job of breaking it down very simply so even a non-scientific minded person can understand and clearly see how our food choices affect us. And they reminded me that my food choices are my choices – no one is holding a gun to my head to make a certain choice. My choices can lead to a cascade of malfunctions that then encourage me to go on making poor choices – driven by out of balance body chemistry I make more wrong choices and the cycle continues.

Melissa and Dallas are all about giving you the information and then you doing the work – but the work is easy! They provide meal ideas and they have a website that you can go to for ongoing support. The Whole30 plan is kind of a detox plan and it may end up stretching to a Whole 45 or Whole 60 plan in individual cases. Once your body chemistry is under control – then you can reintroduce some things and determine what has a bad effect on you and what does not. This helps you to make future good choices – knowledge is power!

I highly recommend this book and the cookbooks below if you want to change your life for the better and get off of the yo-yo wagon! I plan to do the Whole30 plan beginning August 31st after my dad’s 70th birthday. In the meantime I will stick to the Paleo lifestyle as closely as possible but for the Whole30, it requires 30 days of no exceptions and I can’t say no to my family’s cooking!

Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!

Book Review: Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott

Just finished listening to Adrenaline. This is a book written for action junkies. Plenty of explosions, murder, and adventure. The main character is a very likeable guy who finds himself in a situation where he is being accused of treason by association. As he seeks to clear his name and find his missing wife and unborn child – he takes us on a trip from New York to Holland, London, Belgium, and Hungary. Fast-paced, well thought out and well written. There are twists that you don’t expect and it seems like time and again our guy can’t get a break. You’ll have to check out the book to find out how he does in the end.

Book Review: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley by Neal Thompson.

I have been to a Ripley’s museum, but it was a long time ago. I remember seeing the comic in the paper when I was younger – don’t ever read a paper now. I really didn’t know anything about the man though and when I ran across this title, I decided I wanted to know more. Besides I love to read biographies!

I really knew nothing about him and this book covers it all – from his humble beginnings to his ingenuity to his love of sports which expanded to include a love of travel and of learning about interesting/strange phenomenon. He also had a love for all things Asian and when China became a Communist country, it broke his heart.


He was flamboyant, educated millions with the tidbits he discovered, and in his heyday was much looked up to – kids wanted to be a traveler like him. He met with Presidents and was commended for the knowledge he gained and shared. His comic strip and later radio show were beacons of light and hope during the Depression and two World Wars.

A fascinating man and a comprehensive biography.

Book Review: Before He Finds Her

Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos

I have really been enjoying listening to books while I am walking – not only am I getting exercise in, I am getting to ‘read’ which is my favorite past time. I particularly enjoy listening to mysteries.

Michael Kardos kept me going through this whole book. I was engaged with the characters and I wasn’t sure whodunit! It started out as though everything was all figured out and we were just getting back story, but indeed, everything we believe in the beginning is pretty much false. I also liked the way he began it with a blog entry. Wish he had ended it there as well. I also thought the ending might have been drug out a little more than need be, but sometimes it is hard to know when to stop.

I found myself wanting to walk more or do chores so I could keep listening to the story — obvious indications that I enjoyed the ride! Thanks, Michael!

Book Review: 40 Rules for Internet Business Success

40 Rules for Internet Business Success by Matthew Paulson.

My husband recommended that I read this book because I am trying to  create an Internet Business so I can work from home and spend more time with my daughter before she graduates from high school, buys an RV and hits the road.

First I have to say that I highly recommend this book to anyone considering starting an Internet business. So often I hear stories of what seems like overnight successes, but truth is those are either myths or miracles. Starting any kind of business takes a great idea and a lot of hard work.

Matthew makes it easy for you to get a good handle on what is involved. His book is broken up into four sections: Developing Yourself, Building Your Business, Running Your Business, and Growing Your Business. He also provides links to Audio Interviews, recommended books and podcasts and if that is enough to whet your appetite, he includes 40 online business ideas for you to consider.

Each of the four sections is broken down into 10 rules – the sections are succinct and useful. He gives enough explanation in easy to understand language (no techno babble here) to really get you started. At the end of each section, he sums it up with action points.

I appreciate that Matthew took the time to share his experiences and ideas and the work that he put into this book to make it a very useful resource. Check it out – you’ll be glad you did!

Book Review: Vermillion Drift by William Kent Krueger

This is the 10th book in the Cork O’Connor series, but the first one I have ever read (listened to). First, let me reassure you – you don’t have to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy this one. But after reading this one, you are likely to want to back track and follow this detective on more investigations.

The Vermillion Drift is a used up iron mine that is currently being considered by the government as a place to store nuclear waste. Cork O’Connor is on two assignments – one to find out who is threatening the folks involved in making the decision about the new use of the mine and one to find the mine owner’s missing sister.  In the background, we have Cork O’Connor struggling with his own demons of nightmares and missing his wife who died the year before.

This book is fast paced – I found myself doing extra chores around the house so I would have an excuse to keep listening to the story! There are unexpected twists and turns which include the addition of a 40 year old mystery. I really enjoyed the book and if you like a good mystery novel/detective story you won’t be disappointed!

Book Review: 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

This summer, I am taking part of our local library’s adult reading challenge. We are to read 16 books by the middle of August and there are certain categories we have to read from. This is an attempt to get us to look at books we might otherwise ignore. I am enjoying it and I chose the book “102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers” by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.
As most of us, I remember exactly where I was when the towers were attacked and how I felt in the days afterwards. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the television. The enormity of what had happened only barely began to sink in during those days and I cried many tears for those who had lost their lives and for our country that I knew would never be the same. This book is an account of people who were inside the Towers during the attack and the minutes leading up to the collapse of the north tower. As the title reminds us, the whole catastrophe took 102 minutes from beginning to end.
If you read the book, you will be amazed at the heroism of many, of the lack of communication between rescue workers and how these attacks made everything that couldn’t go wrong, go wrong (broken sprinkler system, broken PA system and more). You will read the thoughts of people fighting to survive. Some were successful, some were not. And you will realize that hind sight is always twenty-twenty, but foresight had some good ideas too, it was just that people weren’t listening.
The authors do an excellent job of putting this story together and it was not an easy job to tackle. I highly recommend this if you want to know more about what went on September 11, 2001.

Reversing Heart Disease by Julian Whitaker, M.D.

I have rediscovered my love of reading. When I was growing up, I always had a book with me. I read as I brushed my teeth, dried my hair, ate my breakfast, walked to the bus stop, on the way to school and whenever I had a break during the day. My senior year of highschool, I read over 100 books. My favorites at the time were gothic romance, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul. My 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Boswell, told me it was fine to read the fun stuff, but to be sure to spend time in the classics as well. I took her advice to heart and developed a love for Hardy, Steinbeck, Dickens and Vonnegut (to name a few). Well, now my challenge to myself is to read nonfiction books as well as fiction.
You can check on my Shelfari account in the sidebar of my blog to see what all I have been reading this year. I read from my Kindle while I exercise and then from the stack of books that I have collected over the last 10 years, but hadn’t gotten around to reading. The book I finished today was Reversing Heart Disease. It is a book that my hubby bought a few years ago, but then never read. When my dear friend, Carole, called me to tell me her hubby had had a heart attack, Daniel remembered the book and told her about it. I thought to myself…this is a book I should read, so onto my shelf it went. And I got a copy of Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Whitaker to read on my Kindle. I have a history of Diabetes in my family. I am overweight, sedentary and love to eat sweets. Last August, after my yearly physical, my doctor sent me my blood test results and a prescription for a cholesterol medication.

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