Monday, January 5, 2015

Madness, Miracles, Millions Book Review

I recently finished a great book about the life history of a family and their struggles to make a way, their sacrifices they had, and the ability to overcome obstacles to finally have amazing success.  I was asked to complete a book review and was thrilled to have the opportunity to enjoy learning from the authors of Madness, Miracles, Millions by Joseph Semprevivo and Larry Semprevivo.

Life is what you make it, no more, no less.  Every family has a story to tell; some are just more extraordinary than others. In the father/son authored memoir Madness, Miracles, Millions, Joseph and Larry Semprevivo tell their family's story and in doing so they demonstrate that with real sacrifice and hard work, anyone can realize their dreams. This book is the story of not only a million dollar diabetic cookies and foods company and its humble beginnings, but of the family who built the company and the many obstacles, both personal and professional, they overcame to accomplish their ultimate success. This is certainly not a tale of silver spoons and entitlement. The Semprevivo family’s account takes the Horatio Alger narrative to a new level by presenting a family that not only overcame poverty with hard work, but also overcame life-threatening illness and near fatal accidents.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book...

Larry realized right at that moment that life and death could be measured in seconds and centimeters.

It occurred to him as the intern began to explain his interest in Larry’s situation that we are not put through obstacles to suffer; we are brought through obstacles to see something better on the other side.

We have a lot more control over our lives than we realize; not in the things that happen though, but in how we handle them. 

Every success has a genesis; some are rooted in luck, while others may come about from the very opposite.

What we have found during our many trials is this: life isn’t about luck, it’s about attitude. Luck you have no control over, but attitude is something that you always have a choice about. How you interpret and handle the situations you come across will dictate your life.

We all began to realize how important family was; that it was the backbone of our existence and that, as long as we had had one another, we could do anything.

To a normal teenage boy, it may seem strange to be so excited about a cookie, but to a kid with diabetes, eating a cookie was like walking on the moon. It was something I thought I would never do again for the rest of my life. This was huge for me.

As I chewed the first cookie that had touched my lips in seven years, tears pooled in the corners of my eyes and rolled down my face. I was walking on the moon. This was one small taste for me; one giant bite for all diabetics. 

It takes hard work, dedication, and an attitude that says, 
“I will not stop no matter what I am faced with.”

It takes strength that defies all circumstances and the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try harder. 

God sometimes puts gifts in strange packages, of that I am sure.

God’s strange gift wrapping struck again though because there we were, watching our healthy son not only live, but conquer the world.

With Joseph, everything was just a matter of time once he put his mind to it.

Sometimes doctors don’t take into account the will of the patient when they’re handing out a diagnosis.

Yes, my family has built a successful business that has opened doors in the world of diabetic eating, but most importantly my family has built an unbreakable bond that rests on the foundation of overcoming the odds by fighting harder, staying positive, and sticking together. 

None of us could help but be optimistic and dedicated after watching Joseph pour his heart and soul into what he did so completely. 

Life is full of good and bad no matter who you are; because of this, it isn’t our circumstances or what happens to us by chance that will make or break us, it is what we do in response to the situations that arise in life. 

“I’m only going to ask you one thing; I want you to dig deep and answer it honestly. Tonight when you go to bed, ask yourself, ‘did I give school, life, family, and work 100 percent today?’ If your answer is no, then wake up and give 100 percent tomorrow. If you gave it 100 percent and you got a C, that is all I care about, but if I know that you didn’t give 100 percent and you got a C, that’s a different story.” From that point on in my life, I ask that question every night, “Did you give it 100 percent today?”

To learn more about the authors visit Joseph Semprevivo and Larry Semprevivo...


Heartbeat Connection Magazine December 2014 Edition Cover and Giveaway

This month's cover features my friends, the Meister family. Photographed by Jamie Hardesty of Photographic Images by Jim,

My friend, Angie Meister, sent me a beautiful Christmas card with her family's picture.  I called her right away to ask if she would like to be on this month's cover. I've known Angie for almost 10 years and love her mission to give to others through her company, Project Outreach.  You can learn more about her awesome mission at  

Angie's friend, Jamie Hardesty, took this lovely family photo, she is a professional photographer and family friend.  Her company, Photographic Images by Jim,, specializes in wedding photography and she combines her skills with her husband, Jim's.  Their photography style with unique texture overlays creates fine art that makes them stand out among their colleagues.  To learn more about their work and view some of their photos visit

Celebrating Christmas this year was so much fun with all my local relatives and family.  My kids were so excited on Christmas morning and the anticipation on their faces was something I'll treasure forever.  Now it's on to celebrating the New Year!  I'll be making many New Year's resolutions---getting in shape, organizing, cleaning, are on my list.  What do you have on your list?  Post a comment as we'd love suggestions for New Year resolution!  Happy New Year!

Enjoy our giveaway from The Heartbeat Connection Magazine, 1 FREE Ad online and in the magazine, valued at $250!  Enter on our giveaway page for your chance to win. 

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Prison by Toni Lee Book Review

I wasn't sure what I would think about a book called Prison, but I really enjoyed the story. I was able to review this book courtesy of

Sonja Grey, a narcotics detective, and her nemesis, Max Trent, are handpicked to go undercover to capture a thug—Johnny Stone, aka Rock—who’s dealing drugs at Sonja’s church. Their operation is unwittingly aided by the interference of Sonja’s eccentric aunties. For Max, this assignment has two objectives: get their villain and capture 
Sonja’s heart. 

Will Sonja break free of the shackles of her past and embrace Max’s love, or will they be destroyed by danger?

Here are my highlights (notes) from the book:

“Prison is filled with intrigue and charm—a great mixture of suspense, playfulness, and romance!” –Lynn Zuk-Lloyd

While I was reading, I found out the book took place in Orlando. I always find it intriguing when a book is written in a location I've been to.  Max, one of the main characters, revealed their location by this statement, "He wanted Sonja Grey since the moment he’d laid eyes on her a year ago when he’d joined the Undercover Drug Unit of the Orlando Police Department Drug Enforcement Division."

I also love finding common things between the character and myself.   She loved to read and grabbed every minute she could to indulge.

The story focused on the detective's wanting to bust a guy named Rock for drug dealing and the dangers we can have right around the corner of our own local churches.

Another thing I was interested in learning was that there is a place called Christmas, Florida.  Patrons wanting to mail packages and letters postmarked ‘Christmas, FL’ would have been swarming the small post office they’d just passed.

I liked how the author brought messages from the pastor into Sonja's thoughts.  From one of Pastor Wicham’s sermons surfaced in her mind. Some folk allow past hurts to shackle them . . .

She had to forgive him, so she could be free to receive love—Max’s love.  Lord, I forgive Deon for hurting me. I ask that you forgive me for holding this in my heart for so long.

Some of the statements are so quote worthy:  “You know, people make choices and never think about the devastation they’re setting into motion.”

“My heart’s desire is to see him turn to the Lord and be set free. Free of the deep, burning anger—at his parents and God—and unforgiveness.”

Max really shows his love and devotion to Sonja throughout the book.  "Sonja, don’t you know that my heart beats in time with yours?" and "No more altercations, Sonja. Okay? My heart can’t take it.”

Another true fact...“First impressions are powerful.”

And finally, this is what I felt the true meaning of the book was all about: “It took me a while, but I realized I’d been allowing that painful experience to hold me prisoner. Until I dealt with all of that baggage, I wasn’t free to get involved with anyone.” smile. “But I know I can trust Max with my heart. He won’t trample on it."

To learn more about the author visit
Book provided by

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