Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Book Review: Takedown Twenty

Book Review for:  Takedown Twenty

Written by: Janet Evanovich

Published by: Bantam Books

ISBN: 978-0-345-54288-5


I read: the Hardback


4 Stars


Exciting, but could do without the giraffe.


Evanovich pens another interesting cozy mystery with “Takedown Twenty.” Morelli’s uncle, Sal Sunucch, jumps bond and Stephanie’s been tasked to rebond him. Uncle Sunny has a lot of friends, and no one want to turn him in. Stephanie is also helping Ranger to find out who’s been killing the old ladies who like to play bingo and get discounts at the local store. 


The cherry on the top is that there is a giraffe running wild on Stark Street that only Lula and Stephanie see. Stephanie comes close to taking down Uncle Sunny a couple of times, but breaks her finger, her nose, and gets thrown into the river. As the danger amps up, Stephanie gets cold feet, throws in the towel, and goes to work for a butcher. Can Stephanie catch Uncle Sunny and figure out who is targeting the old ladies at Bingo before her grandmother is next? 


Evanovich’s writing style easily draws the reader in and keeps them interested. The Uncle Sunny plot has readers engaged and curious. The giraffe subplot feels forced and only served as an unneeded distraction. 


The characters were entertaining as usual, and readers will find themselves among old friends. The ending sneaks up on the reader. 


Overall, Takedown Twenty is a fun read with old friends and new challenges. If you’re looking for a cozy read to pass the time or to catch up with friends, this one for you. 


Check out my story, Young Witchcraft:

Blurb:Rachel’s secret would have Cotton Mather rolling over in his grave. She’s been raised from an early age to use magic for good, despite her temptation to cast a spell against Phil the bully who can’t stop teasing her.

Joe thinks Rachel is cool, especially when she weaves her healing magic on him, but he’s got his own problems. It’s not easy keeping Rachel safe from Phil’s constant threats.

When Phil poisons Rachel, can love and a little young witchcraft bring Rachel and Joe together or have the years of Phil’s bullying ruined their relationship for good?

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Self-Publishing #2 - The Process & Copyrights

I think the process starts with the story. When I was writing for Victory Tales Press, they wanted shorter stories, about 10-20,000 words to put in a holiday themed anthology, be it paranormal, Christmas, or spring/summer. 


One of my first stories for them was “Christmas in Bayeux.”  The story was to be stimulating, or sexually charged.


When it comes to writing the majority of my stories, setting is very important to me. I shoot for international settings (inspired by my time spent in Europe when I was in the Army) or New England where I grew up. Sometimes I write about places that have left a marked impression on me, such as California wine county.


Once I have my story, I flesh out my characters, my conflict, the romance, and then target the heat level to what I want for the story, be it sweet, sensual, steamy, or spicy. With Christmas in Bayeux,  I was shooting for steamy.  A big part of my writing is researching as well. I flesh out a plot and start to writing. The whole creative process is invigorating!


When I first wrote “Christmas in Bayeux,” was about 10-12,000 words and was published in 2010. When I got the revision of rights in 2018, I decided to do a content edit, flesh it out, and develop the characters more. It took me about 2 years to do that content edit. The story was now about 40,000 words long, novella size.  I pretty much self-edit along the way, so my editing was done shortly after the content edit. 


After I was satisfied with the edit, my beta reader read the story and offered suggestions.  My beta reader typically reads for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but also looks at other story elements as well. Beta reading takes time, and I don’t rush her. She’s done when she’s done.  That’s where patience comes in. 


However, this is a good time to go about securing your Copyright. 


A copyright is a legal way to protect your intellectual property. Legally, a book you created is your intellectual property and you want to protect it. 


From Copyright.gov:  Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression.


Again, from Copyright.gov:  Copyright exists automatically in an original work of authorship once it is fixed, but a copyright owner can take steps to enhance the protections. The most important step is registering the work. Registering a work is not mandatory, but for U.S. works, registration (or refusal) is necessary to enforce the exclusive rights of copyright through litigation. 


If you ever need to take someone to court for a violation of copyright, having registered your copyright is the best way to prove you have the copyright. 


How to go about doing that? 


You can start here to register for your copyright:  https://www.copyright.gov/registration/


Last year, when I registered some of my stories the cost was about $65.00. You can register for the copyright yourself. You don’t need a lawyer to do it. 


While a copyright registration isn’t a MUST, it’s a good to do it to protect yourself in case someone else infringes on your copyright. 

Here is the video I did for the original Christmas in Bayeux




Friday, July 5, 2024

Health Topic: Drink your Greens

I’ve always heard the ads on radio – “drink your greens”  - it really helps.  At first I "pish- pished" it but as I’ve gotten older and the body has gotten “achier” I’ve been willing to try different, homeopathicish kinda’ stuff.  I used bromelain which I love but that another post. I also take the stuff for the joints whichI  get from Costco. Back to greens.


Honestly, I don’t get enough greens so I thought I’d try a “Drink your greens” product. There’s a TON out there.  Which one to get?  Now, I get some items from ROOT Brands, Clean Slate, Sculpt, Restore, so I thought I’d try them. Their greens are “ReLive Greens.”  OMG it tasted awful. I tried to take them – I gave it 2 days. I couldn’t get past the taste. 


Then I heard an ad for Brickhouse Nutrition and the “Wildberry” flavor.  Okay – flavored greens. I think I can do that. I ordered it. I think it was $65.00 after a discount. And this time I bought Propel water – the berry one. I mixed up 8 oz of Propel and a scoop of Wildberry and went for it.  The taste was definitely better.  It’s still kinda’ ick but not so much.  I can drink it. 


And since my body has extra aches and aging pains (56 is no joke) I thought I’d drink one 8 oz in the morning and one 8 oz at night. Let me tell you.  I can definitely feel a difference. There’s a lot less aches and pains and I feel like I have more mobility in the joints. 


Now Brickhouse claims that greens boost the immune system, aid with detoxing (and after my massage that I got on the cruise, I was told I need all the detoxing I can get) increase energy level, and support a healthy metabolism. It’s vegan and organic. The only down side is I think it’s a tad pricy but since I feel overall better, I’m not complaining. I’ll take it. 


I’d say the claims are spot on. I do feel an increased energy level. I’m going to keep drinking my greens.  Let’s see where it goes. I started in April. I stopped on the cruise, but I’m back now.  I’ll give you guys an update in a few.  

Anyone else drink their greens? 


Check out my latest release: The Wolf's Torment

Blurb: It's 1865 and Lady Theresa travels from Austria to Moldavia, a country haunted by tales of vampires and werewolves. She's going to marry the Crown Prince, but she harbors her own unspoken secrets.

Prince Mihai has just returned to Moldavia to embrace his witching heritage. He's intent on being a good husband and modernizing his country, but he must find a balance with his supernatural lineage. His best friend, Viktor, accompanies Mihai and marries Mihai's sister. In an unfortunate twist of fate, a werewolf bites Viktor.

Viktor's transformation threatens everyone around him, including his wife's safety and Mihai's happiness, but he's especially dangerous when he's near Theresa. Can Mihai save his family from Viktor's lies and deceptions?





Thursday, July 4, 2024

4th of July 2024 Musings...

What does the 4th of July mean to me?  A lot. 


One of my earliest memories was my parents and family going down to the bi-centennial parade in Manchester, NH. I was just a kid, but it was impressed on me that it was a big day and I wouldn’t experience another milestone like this. I have a few pics from that day, but they’re a bit faded now.  I often think back of my family walking up from my house to Deerfield Park in Manchester to watch the fireworks.  Fireworks bring out the little kid in me. They capture an “awe factor” It’s a reminder of Freedom to me and having an appreciation of that freedom. 


Growing up when I did in NH, civics was important. I learned a lot about NH government as well as the nation’s. I think the one of the lasting impressions I have from that period is that “Fair” means a lot.  And it’s important to me that I’m a fair minded person. 


In 1986, I entered military service on 8 July.  Not quite the 4th, but I remember the spirit of patriotism was soaring high in the nation. It was the time of Reagan, and I was very proud to serve under Reagan as a president. 


Between 1986-to about 2005ish, the 4th meant a time to relax, enjoy the lazy summer day, BBQ, fly your flag and tip your hat to American’s birthday with a fireworks display.  Then in 2005, our family went to Avalon, CA on Catalina Island for the 4th.  It was amazing.  Nothing said “home” California style than the golf cart parade and the USC marching band.  After a BBQ on the beach, we went and saw the fireworks on the beach in Avalon. We went to Avalon from about 2005 to 2012. It was a memorable time for us and the boys. They still have warm memories of the 4th.  So to all the founding fathers – thank you. 


Home of the Brave and Land of the Free. 

We have a Republic. Let’s keep it. 

Happ 4th to the USA!!


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."



Fun Facts: 


John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, 2 of our founding fathers, died on the same day - 4th July 1826.  50 years after the Declaration of Independence. 


200 copies of the Declaration of Independence were drafted, but only 27 are accounted for.


Congress declared the 4th of July an official holiday - in 1870!


The Star Spangled Banner was inspired by the War of 1812. A poem put to music, it became the USA's official national anthem in 1931.


My story, Arrow Through the Heart takes place in New Hampshire around the 4th of July.  Logan & Ella have a fun celebrating, but danger surrounds Ella. Can Logan help to keep her safe?

Buy Arrow Through the Heart




Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Book Review: The Viscount that Loved Me Book 2 in the Bridgerton Series

Book Review for: The Viscount Who Loved Me




Author: Julia Quinn

Published by: Avon Books, 2006, 2015, 

Overall rating: 4.5 Stars 




PLOT:  (4.5 Stars)


Anthony Bridgerton is a young, attractive viscount who is feeling the urge to settle down and find a wife. He’s not worried about his reputation – in fact, he’s rather proud of being a rake and a rogue. He has absolutely no intention of beginning in love with the woman he picks for his wife, so he sets his eye on the lovely Edwina Sheffield, the belle of the ton. 


Kate Sheffield is Edwina’s older sister and is also making her debut season in the ton. She finds Anthony’s reputation despicable and is mortified to discover he’s set his eye on Edwina. She has no intention of allowing Edwina to marry a rake and a man who doesn’t love her. 


When Anthony and Kate meet, the sparks fly. Both are so much alike – stubborn, full of pride, and quick-witted. As Kate runs interference for her sister, she finds herself more and more attracted to the handsome viscount. Dare Anthony fall in love with perfect woman for him? 


CATAYLIST: (4 Stars)


I was shopping at Costco when I found the book. I hadn’t read book #1 (The Duke and I) yet, but I was ready for a historical, regency romance. This cover, for me, was more in line with what I had envisioned for the story. 


THOUGHTS: (4.5 Stars)


For me, both characters were easy to like. Kate made a determined heroine, but her fear of thunderstorms is deep seated. When Anthony finds her in a vulnerable position due to her fear, he strives to help, proving he’s more gentleman than a rogue and allows Kate’s feelings for him to grow. Anthony, too, has a deep-seated belief – he’s convinced he’s not going to live to an old age, dying young as his father did. This fear drives his decisions, and yet when he meets Kate and discovers the power of love, he learns he is the master of his own destiny – but what choice should he make? The safe one or the risky one? 


WHAT WORKS: (4.5 Stars)


The witty banter. The plot moves a nice clip and I found myself rooting for Kate and Anthony. 




The ending seems a little forced and rushed. Anthony has his epiphany and rushes to find Kate. Good. BUT the scenario where Kate was in danger felt a little, well, forced. 




I enjoyed the setting and the escapism of the novel. Both main characters were well fleshed out with their flaws and vulnerabilities which made them very relatable. 




Not at this time. I love a good regency romance and the Bridgerton book series could very well be that, but I appreciate more the realism of the escapism, than the reimagining of it. The TV Series itself would stand much stronger on its own if it was its own world and not the reimagined world of the ton. 




As I usually do with a review, I download the cover and share it with the review. Well, I discovered the book had more than one cover. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as it had a different color when it was published in 2006 and 2015. 


Check out my Amazon Author Page at:

Stephanie's Amazon Author Page

Monday, July 1, 2024

Welcome to July 2024!!

I just want to welcome the Blog followers to July! The 4th of July is just around the corner, and I bought tickets to see the fireworks show at Ventura college. We’ve gone before. It’s nothing special, but it feels more special than just staying in Santa Clarita and watching the fireworks at the mall.  I love Santa Clarita, but fireworks at mall is a tad crowded and there’s too much asphalt. 


We’ve gone to Ventura a couple of times, now. It’s at the college and we get to sit down on the grass and bring items for a picnic. We can bring in coolers, lawn chairs, blankies, but there’s no alcohol, no pets, no smoking/vaping.  There will be food trucks, which are kinda’ neat.  I think I got an ice cream from them last year.  When the boys were little, they went and played on the bounce houses.  This year we just have Boy #2, Joey, who is 17. Boy #1, Andy is on Catalina Island at Camp Emerald Bay during the 4th doing his Boy Scout thing.  The only thing with Ventura is that it can get a little cramped feeling. Boy #2 has never been big on fireworks, as he’s also sensitive to loud sound. The vacuum cleaner drove him crazy when he was younger. 


For a long time, we used to go to Avalon on Catalina Island for the 4th of July.  What started out as a 2-3 overnighter turned into a week-long event.  And trust me, you can pack a whole week of 4th of July fun on Catalina.  We usually rented a condo on Hamilton cove and drove the golf cart everywhere. There’s BBQ’ing, fishing, relaxing, and the fireworks in the harbor were very memorable.  There’s the golf cart parade and the USC marching band. 4th of July on Avalon was something special, and I think we did it from 2005 to 2012 when the boys were little.  We stopped because the in-laws started coming and honestly, 2012 was not as pleasant as it could have been. 


We might go back next year.  Boy #2 suggested we go while on vacation and Hubby and I are seriously considering it – no in laws. We’re putting our foot down. I think Joey, heck - we all do - have great 4th of July memories on Catalina and we’d like to go back.  The 4th of July isn’t the same when we’re not in Avalon. 


This year I bought some fun decorations at Walmart and Dollar tree to spruce up the lawn. I’ve got beads and headbands.  I want to bring Popeye’s chicken to eat on the lawn in Ventura. Last year Hubby made sandwiches and they were okay, but it was too much.


What do you have planned for the 4th


Summer vacation and the Fourth of July brings Ella to New Hampshire while participating in a tennis competition. Logan is resident who bumps into Ella and invites her for an ice cream. Attraction flares and they enjoy spending time together.

As things heat up between them, each evaluates their plans for their life. When Ella is confronted by a stalker, Logan comes to her aid, but can a summer attraction truly become a lasting relationship?

Buy Arrow Through the Heart

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Looking for Sarah Palin #3

Glaciers & North to Nature 


It was our day to cruise Glacier Bay. Heck, I didn’t know much about Glaciers, so I was ready to learn! Our first Glacier that day was coming up at 9 am. I got up early and went up to Deck 16 for a little breakfast before coming down to see the massive ice formations.  My husband and boys were already in the cabin, on the balcony, ready to check it out. Heck, they even ordered room service!


The earliest known writings/recordings of the Glacier Bay we know today, came in 1741 by 2 Russian explorers. They met the Tinglit tribe at that time. These native Americans still live there today and have been part of Alaska’s fabric since the land was formed. Then in 1794, the Brits showed up and laid claim to the area.  Big fight. The Russians were there first. A convention in 1825 settled in the Russian’s favor and they sold Alaska and this area to the USA in 1867.  The boundary with Canada was settled in 1903.


When the Brits visited in 1794, Joseph Whidbey, wrote that the glaciers were deep. Then in 1888, when John Muir visited, he noted how the glaciers had receded. 


Whidbey said it was 48 miles into the sea. Muir stated it had retreated 44 miles from the sea. Now, it’s retreated 65 miles from the sea. However, there is still one glacier that is growing into the sea. I believe it’s the John Hopkins glacier. These are tidewater glaciers that end at the sea, which is different from an artic glacier. Per accepted scientific data, tidewater glaciers go through centuries long periods of advancing and retreating and are LESS affected by climate change than other glaciers.   And I would argue, from what I saw, this is most definitely the case, but I’m not here to talk about climate change. I’m here to share my thoughts, observations, and pictures of the glaciers I saw in Glacier Bay national park. 


The park itself is 3.3 million acres. We saw the Margerie, Lamplugh, John Hopkins, and Reid Glaciers.  Per park rules only 2 cruise ships can enter the Inside Passage which contain the glaciers at a time. 


The area was very chilly, and we definitely had to bundle up as we cruised through the area.  The Margerie was considered stable, not growing, not retreating.  The front was very solid and ice blue.  When a glacier is so cold, the ice turns blue. We heard cracking and saw ice coming off the glacier.  I was able to get several photos of the ice in the water. 


John Hopkins looked the firmest, with a big glacial sheet of ice falling deep back into the mountain ranges. The mountains did seem not so tall to me, and there were several times, the clouds dusted the mountain tops.  My husband saw a lone goat on one of the mountains, but I couldn’t pick it out.  We saw a lot of sea otters (my favorite cutie water animal) and my son saw dolphins, but no bear or whale sightings. 


We sailed the inlet about 3-4 hours total, and left the area roughly, around 1 pm.  National Park Rangers joined us around 7 in the morning and were giving presentations all day.  We were told the ship slowed down, but did not stop for them so the Rangers had to come up alongside us, and climb a rope ladder to get onto the vessel.  The NPS rangers left us at around 2:30 pm. 


Seeing nature so alive in such in cold environment like that makes you see it in a different perspective. For me, it was quiet, calming, and amazing. To see the sea otters just floating on their backs enjoying life despite the harshness is a lesson we can strive to emulate in our own lives. 


Alaska’s nature was raw, beautiful, and poignant. Heck, I had already fallen in love with Alaska but seeing Glacier bay and it’s cool, raw beauty was the diamond ring. Alaska has everything I think of when I think of nature. It’s kind of nature I want to surround myself with. 




In 2010, Sarah Palin’s Alaska aired on TLC.  It only had 1 season and 8 episodes. I didn’t even know about it until now when I started poking around, so I’m definitely going to try to find these episodes and check them out.  I watched this clip about counting fish and could so relate after exploring Juneau on the Salmon bake and Skagway.  The water is incredibly clear the fish are abundant. Alaska is a place where you have to go it, but it will blow you away. North to the Future!