Sunday, September 29, 2013

GoodReads Giveaway: First Flag of New Hampshire #giveaway #goodreads


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        First Flag of New Hampshire by Stephanie Burkhart



          First Flag of New Hampshire

          by Stephanie Burkhart


            Giveaway ends October 13, 2013.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

      Enter to win

If you have an opportunity, stop on by and sign up. First Flag of New Hampshire is geared for 4th-7th grade readers.  BLURB: Aly and Miguel are given an assignment to find the first flag of NH, but is the task to hard to accomplish?

First Flag of NH takes place during the fall, making it fun reading for this time of year.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Welcome Guest Author Barbara Edwards #guestauthor

        STEPH: Barbara Edwards is a published author with the Wild Rose Press and she's here to talk about her latest release.  Tell us a little bit about your holiday romance.

BARBARA: Journey of the Magi tells the story of a widow, with two small children who desperately wants to give them a safe home. She promises they will reach Connecticut for the holidays but no money, a broken down car and the man of her dreams threaten her plans

STEPH: How long did Journey of the Magi take you to write?
BARBARA:         Not as long as my paranormal romances although it did get rejected twice before finally being accepted. Probably four months in total.

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

BARBARA:            Most of the story came from my life. I visited Minnesota in November for a very cold snowy wedding, I bake a terrific pie crust, I long to be home for the holidays, I try very hard to keep my promises to my family. Wow, now you know a lot about me.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story?

BARBARA:      I think so. I guess you’d need to read Journey to see the tiny details the cover artist put it.

STEPH: Noel Martin is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

BARBARA:     Noel’s determined. When she makes a decision she follows through. Her weakness is she can’t believe in the love she’s found with the hero.

STEPH: What does the hero find appealing about the heroine?

BARBARA:     She is a gentle, loving woman who wants her children’s life to be as wonderful as she remembers her childhood.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the novel?

BARBARA:     My manger has two sets of Magi or Wisemen. One set belonged to my Mother and although the paint is peeling and chipped they remind me of Christmas at my parent’s home.

STEPH: What's the theme of the novel?

BARBARA:     Every life is a journey in search of what is your heart’s desire.

STEPH:  What are you reading now?

BARBARA:     I’m picking at several different stories. I have a ton of Wild Rose Press novels on my Kindle and I keep switching.

STEPH: Fun Question: What's your favorite thing to do in the summer time?

BARBARA: I love the beach, any beach - lake, ocean, riverside – as long as the water is murmuring, whispering, burbling.

Journey of the Magi blurb:

Widow Noel Martin never breaks promises, and she promised her kids they’d have Christmas at her childhood home in Connecticut. But driving across country takes money. Noel is broke when a snowstorm blows them into a tiny Minnesota café owned by a man who can change her mind. She accepts his offer of a job. Despite her attraction to him, she makes it clear she is only temporary help.

Dan Longstreet isn’t adopting any more strays, but he needs a waitress. Dan works so hard to make his café a success, he doesn't have time for love. Though Noel’s slender blonde beauty stuns him and her two adorable children tug at his heart, he denies how they threaten to change his life.

When tragedy strikes, their new-found love is the first victim. Noel can't stay and Dan can't leave. Will their journey be the gift that reunites them? 


Excerpt from Journey of the Magi:
“Oh, Holly, how many times have I told you not to open the door to strangers?”
Holly stared at her mother.
“That’s what Dan said, too.” Her forehead wrinkled as she pursed her mouth. “Do all grown-ups say the same things?”
“Not all. And I think you should call him Mr. Longstreet.”
“I did. But he said I could call him Dan since you were already friends.”
Noel ducked her head to avoid Holly’s gaze as her stomach warmed. Friends? Her pulse raced and her skin tingled when he was close, not feelings she had for a friend. Dan sparked a strong attraction in her, but she had no intention of acting on it. She had to keep firmly to her goal: they were going home.
Home. She’d dreamed of returning for so long. If she was honest, going home had been her hope for years. The big old farmhouse had given a sad, lonely child more than shelter. It held the memories of loving arms cradling her, fresh-baked cookies and safety. All the things she wanted for her babies.
Nicholas gave a contented hiccup and she eased him over to burp. As soon as she dressed, she’d remind Dan she had to leave before Christmas.

Journey of the Magi is available:
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review Tuesday - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins #hungergames #bookreview

Book Review for: Mockingjay
Written by: Suzanne Collins
ISBN: 978-0-439-02351-1
Avail: in print and ebook
5 Stars

Collins pen a suspenseful, nail-biting conclusion to the "Hunger Games" series with "Mockingjay." Katniss needs to assume the mantle of the "Mockingjay" to give Panem's rebellion a chance at success, but what will it do to her soul?

Katniss recovers from the Quarter Quell games after being saved by the rebellion leaders who are aligned with District 13, but she's damaged – physically, mentally, and emotionally. As she recovers, she adapts to life in District 13 where her mother and Prim live, too.  Her friend, Gale, is a major leader in the rebellion, but it's not until Katniss learns that the Capital has Peeta does she agree to become the rebellion's Mockingjay.

Katniss will play her role to the best of her ability, but she is constantly watched by President Coin of District 13, who consistently reminds Katniss that her role is only that for a figurehead.

When Katniss and her squad penetrate the Capital, the action and suspense build to a pulse-pounding pace. Can Panem finally defeat the evil that rules its society and do away with the Hunger Games for good?

Collins is easy to read. She captures the nuances of Katniss' emotional torment with finesse, reminding the reader the turmoil that war plays on the human psyche.

The best part of the novel was the characters. Despite Katniss' emotional angst, she saves Buttercup, the cat, for Prim, a noble gesture indeed since Katniss can't stand the animal. Gale's focus remains firmly on the rebellion, while Haymitch and Finnick's motivations are tempered by those they care for. Coin proves just as ruthless as Snow in unexpected ways.

The end is full of action and will tear at the heartstrings with its unexpected twists and unsuspecting surprises.

The book is mainstream young adult fiction set in a dystopian future and is appropriate for readers ten and over. "Mockingjay" is guaranteed a pageturner! I couldn't put the novel down and once I finished, the characters stayed with me for days after. I highly recommend this story. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Snippet Sunday - Sunrise Over Brasov - paranormal romance in time for Halloween! #snippetsunday

Hi all, I'm participating in the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday. This month, I'll be taking snippets from my paranormal romance, "Sunrise Over Brasov."

This snippet:  Rosa is riding behind Michael on his horse.  


Darius careened toward Rosa and Michael from above.
 "He's hurt." Michael slowed his horse. "Hold him."

Rosa straightened her posture and found her balance, though a bit unsteady. Darius flew into her arms and she brought him close to her breast. Blood oozed from his right wing.  

Sunrise Over Brasov is book 3 in the award winning Moldavian Moon Series.  Book 1, The Wolf's Torment, won GOLD in the 2012 Reader's Favorite Contest in Fiction: Supernatural. It was also nominated for Book of the Week with Long & Short.  Book 2, Twilight Over Moldavia was also nominated Book of the Month with Long and Short Reviews. 





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review Tuesday - Haunted Knights by Anna Markland #bookreview

Book Review for: Haunted Knights
Written by: Anna Markland
Avail as: ebook
4 Stars

Markland pens a suspenseful tale that will have readers on the edge of their seats with "Haunted Knights." It's the reign of Henry III, and the Montbryce family is thriving in Normandy and England. When Adam Montbryce, heir to Belisle Castle, is incapacitated, he seeks his fortune in England, never expecting to find hope.

Adam is a vital young man who loses his hearing and his ability to produce children after an illness. He sets out with his brother, Denis, who is a dwarf, to England to find his fortune. There he meets the Lallemont brothers. When a fire breaks out at Kingston Gorse, Adam and Denis help rescue the Lallemont sisters, Rosamunda and Paulina.  Rosamunda is mute and Paulina is a dwarf as well. While the women appear to be perfect for Adam and Denis, can they overcome threats, kidnapping, and ridicule to find not just hope, but happiness?

Markland's researched her topic and it shows, giving a voice to disabilities. The plot is straight forward. What Markland does well is offer a metaphor for those with disabilities that challenge them. Denis may be a dwarf, but he doesn't let his condition stop him from doing what he wants. He's an aspiring character. Adam is also noble and honest, but doubts Rosamunda at a critical time, leaving the women vulnerable.

There's plenty of action, adventure, and excitement that will keep the reader wondering what's coming next. "Haunted Knights" is a historical romance that contains several sensual romantic scenes. For those who enjoy historical stories with medieval knights I recommend this story.  Overall, "Haunted Knights" proves chivalry never goes out of style.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September is National Honey Month!

Honey has a lot of uses. It's been around since the earliest civilizations including the ancient Egyptians and Greece. Trust me, a little honey goes a long way so I thought I'd share some cool facts about honey and bees with you. I hope you enjoy National Honey Month!

Almonds rely 100% on honeybee pollination.

Apples, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, and sunflowers rely 90% on honeybee pollination.

Honey can taste different based on the flower and insect.

Honey is a safe and cheap alternative to use as a cough suppressant.

Honey is a natural energy booster.

Bees fly at 15 mph.

A Queen bee lays up to 1500 eggs a day.

I don't have very many honey recipes, but I do like to put it in my tea and use it as a cough suppressant. Do you use honey in your cooking? Do you have and recipes or tips you'd like to share?

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to enjoy a nip of honey this month. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Snippet Sunday - Paranormal Romance: Sunrise Over Brasov #snippetsunday

Hi all, I'm participating in the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday. This month, I'll be taking snippets from my paranormal romance, "Sunrise Over Brasov."

Sunrise Over Brasov 
Paranormal Romance

This snippet:  Michael and friends are fired upon them.  


The bullet narrowly missed Michael's head. He jabbed his horse with his heels and Gold Dust trotted off. Rickard kept pace. A second bullet fired, then a third. Michael's heartbeat pounded in his chest. 

Who was firing on them?

"Where's it coming from?" asked Rosa.

"From the northeast. " 

Sunrise Over Brasov is book 3 in the award winning Moldavian Moon Series.  Book 1, The Wolf's Torment, won GOLD in the 2012 Reader's Favorite Contest in Fiction: Supernatural. It was also nominated for Book of the Week with Long & Short.  Book 2, Twilight Over Moldavia was also nominated Book of the Month with Long and Short Reviews. 





Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review Friday - Fifty Shades Freed by EL James #bookreview #50shadesofgrey

Book Review for: Fifty Shades Freed
Written by: EL James
Vintage Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-80350-4
Avail: print and ebook
3.5 Stars

James pens an engaging story that proves happiness is something to fight for with "Fifty Shades Freed." Anastasia marries Christian, but immediately finds his lifestyle uncomfortable. Complicating matters is Jack Hyde's pursuit to ruin Christian's life. Despite mounting problems, can Ana and Christian stay together, or will they be torn apart for good?

The story starts with Ana and Christian on their honeymoon. Security is heightened due to Jack Hyde being free. When the couple comes home, they face increasing challenges – Ana's wanting to retain her sense of individuality and worth, Hyde's capture then escape, and Ray's accident. As the challenges mount, will the stress tear the couple apart?

James' style is easy to read, though the novel is written in the first person, present tense. While I'm used to the style now, there are times when it slows down the storytelling.

James' strength is character development. Christian's journey will tug on the reader's heartstrings as he struggles with self-worth and insecurity. Ana is steadfast and the one constant in his life that offers hope.

While several events occur that are meant to be challenges to the characters' change of relationship, they felt contrived and forced, including the events surrounding Jack. The plot isn't as fluid as in previous books, but the character growth proved compelling and worth the read.

The novel is intended for mature readers with sexually charged erotic scenes. Overall, "Fifty Shades Freed" is a satisfying conclusion to the series. 

Author EL James' Website:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Taking the Cubs to Camp Whitsett #cubscouts #scouting

Adventures of a Cub Scout Mom 

Me, Andrew & Joe at Camp Whitsett

Truth be told, I've got my fingers in too many "pies." It's a wonder I still have curls in my hair, but when Joe's den leader asked for an assistant and no one else volunteered, I started feeling bad for the boys and raised my hand. After all, Cub Scouts is a big adventure to a 6/7 year old.  How could I let my son down?

Being a Cub Scout assistant den leader has more pros than cons. I love watching the boys grow and learn and have fun. There's always a new adventure around the corner. My big stress is getting to the meetings on time with everything I need.

Just recently the pack (We belong to Pack 40 out of Valencia, CA) spent family cub weekend up at Camp Whitsett. The camp is up in the Sequoias near the Kern River. Kernville is the nearest town. It takes a good 3-3 ½ hours to get there.

We waited until the boys got out of school on Friday and left at 4 pm., stopping for a dinner break. We arrived at 8:15 pm at Camp Whitsett and signed in. We were staying at the Tillamook Camp. We found our way over there, unrolled our sleeping bags on the cots and passed out. I got to share a tent with Andrew, my 11-year-old. The tents are canvas and on a slightly evaluated wooden platform with 2 cots. I really can't complain about the sleeping arrangements. If anything, the porta-potty was a hike in the middle of the night. Uncomfortable.

Our Tents

The staff that runs the family camp are very friendly and helpful. We talked to a bunch while waiting in the Saturday morning breakfast line. One lady helps because her son, now a teenager, wants to be there. It just shows the positive influence of scouting in a boy's life, being outdoors, doing things with your hands, learning skills that will last a life time. These qualities resonate with a young boy and provide the building blocks for responsibility, discipline, and leadership as they get older.

The staff provides the food under a big tent. This weekend there were 400 people. For me, all the food was edible. I'm not a big complainer. Joe ate the food which is fantastic considering he's the pickiest boy I know.  (Being a fond believer in the zodiac, I just learned that Virgos can be picky eaters. Go figure. Joe is all Virgo.)

Opening Flag Ceremony

After breakfast the boys participated in a flag ceremony. Then we went back and changed into our Camp Whitsett t-shirts. We took Joe fishing first, but the trout didn't nibble on his line and he lost patience. After lunch we "tie-dyed" t-shirts and worked on beads. The boys rushed off to BB guns while I finished the beads. I caught up to them on the Archery range. The bow was as tall as Joe. He was a little tired, it being the end of the day, but he did manage to hit a target or two with the instructor's help. Afterwards, they let the adults shoot some arrows, so I got up and had a go at it. The last time I shot a bow was in junior high (about 32 years ago) and I forgot how much fun it was. After adjustments I was sticking it to the target something fierce. 

BB Gun Targets

Before dinner I played chess with the boys and I won. (It was hard to lose) I used to play all the time when I was Andrew's age, not so much since, but chess is like riding a bike – you never really forget once you learn.

Joe at the archery range

After dinner, our group had clean up. I helped out in the kitchen. Andrew was right at my side and I'm glad. He was always willing to get his hands dirty. Afterwards, we crashed on the cots, totally pooped.

Me at the Archery range

My son, Joe, said the best part about the weekend was spending time with his family. He also liked the BB guns.

Andrew and I loved the archery. Heck, I had fun tie-dying the shirts too, but it's being outdoors that invigorates the soul - and watching the smiles on the boys' faces.

More adventures coming soon…

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Join the Goodreads Giveaway for Danube In Candlelight #giveaway #goodreads

I'm giving away a print copy of Danube in Candlelight, Book 3 in the Budapest Moon Series. Danube in Candlelight was a FINALIST in the 2012 Reader's Favorite Contest in Romance: Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  The Giveaway ends 23 SEP 2013. 


Morgan Duma has always known she's different. Her eyes have unusual gold rings around her irises, a trait she's inherited from her father. She's faster and stronger than most. Her endurance and stamina allow her to complete tasks in a quick and efficient fashion. Since she was a little girl, she knew there was only one man for her -- Adam Varga. Morgan learned to dance in Adam's arms. They grew up playing the piano together. Adam's calm, soothing presence was the perfect compliment to her restless soul. Not only that, he shared her differences down to his feral eyes. 

Enter Zoltan Kristos, Hungary's Minister of Reconstruction. He shares those same golden eyes that Morgan possesses. After Zoltan carries her mother out of a blazing fire, Morgan's life takes a turn she doesn't expect. She discovers the reasons for her differences, and questions her very identity. Is Adam strong enough to be the man she needs him to be?


"Did I hit a nerve?" he asked.
"A nerve? In my neck?" She took a step backward to be closer to him.
"No. About your father. Is your real fear about what will happen to your mother once he turns her?" Adam kept his voice low and leaned close to her ear.
She closed her eyes briefly and faced her anxiety. "Yes."
"Morgan, our fathers' condition has a host of positive traits -- heightened senses, for example, but the best trait is the healing factor."
"I understand, Adam. That healing factor will help my mother recover from her awful injuries, but it comes with a tradeoff -- she's going to become a werewolf."
"Is it better she become addicted to morphine? That addiction is a beast in itself. Which would you prefer she'd become? The soldiers hooked on morphine have vacant eyes, and their hands tremble for their next fix. Do you want that for your mother? Fighting something she can't win against, or do you want her dealing with a manageable condition? Both our fathers are good men. They've managed it."
Morgan pursed her lips. Adam's tone was laced in objectivity and confidence, offering her a plausible reason for her father's actions. Morgan didn't want a shell of skin and bones that resembled her mother -- she wanted her mother well, both emotionally and physically. Why had she been so selfish not to see that?
"It doesn't bother you that you have these traits?"
"I'm comfortable with who I am."
Morgan spun around, pressing the length of her body against Adam, curving her hand around the nape of his neck, and bringing his lips to hers. Their mouths met in a searing kiss full of desire. Want. Warmth. Pleasure replaced Morgan's emotional pain, and she deepened the kiss between them by sweeping her tongue into his mouth. Adam groaned, wrapped his hands around her waist, and tugged her closer. Morgan continued the kiss, nipping his lower lip with her teeth. A blast of heat from his body washed over her like an ocean wave, sending pleasure spiraling through her. God, she had never felt so wonderful.


5 Stars, Reader's Favorite
"This story is the closest I have ever come to reading a book that feels like a movie!"

5 Lips,  Two Lips Reviews:
"I found the setting for Danube in Candlelight intriguing. The 1920 period lends a wonderfully dynamic tempo. The discerning reader will not want to miss reading Danube in Candlelight. I highly recommend it."

4 Stars, You Need to Read from You Gotta Read Reviews:
"Once again Stephanie Burkhart has pulled readers into a world filled with beauty, full moons, passion, wolves, and strife. Danube in Candlelight is a fantastic book filled with endearing characters."

4 Stars, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews:
"Once again, Stephanie Burkhart has touched my imagination and with her writing brings 1922 Hungary to life. This is a must read if you enjoy the paranormal werewolf stories or even if you merely enjoy a good romance."

3.5 Stars, The Hope Chest Reviews:
"Danube in Candlelight was a pleasant, easy read. Ms. Burkhart has created an interesting world."

Pen and Muse Reviews:
"Burkhart will have you living and breathing through her characters."

Here is a link to the GoodReads Giveaway. If you have a moment, stop on by and sign up:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review Tuesday - Superman by Larry Tye #bookreview #superman

Book Review for: Superman
Written by Larry Tye
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-8129-8077-6
Avail: ebook & print
5 Stars

Tye pens an engaging comprehensive history of the Man of Steel - Superman. Tye shows us the spark of inspiration shared by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster and how the two were drawn together to give Superman substance. Tye also gives the reader a peak into Superman's media history and the actors who portrayed him.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster were two youngsters who toiled for years working out the details of Superman. Jerry lost his dad at a young age and was inspired to create the Man of Steel from his loss over his father. Jerry found Joe whose artwork gave Superman life. It took a Herculean effort to get their character in print, but once there, Superman resonated with readers young and old, becoming an instant hit and moneymaker.  Superman's publishers, Liebowitz and Dronefield swindled Siegel and Schuster out of their rights, ensuring Superman's creators to a life of struggles.

While Jerry and Joe struggled to pay bills and receive their just recognition as Superman's creators, their Man of Steel became a media success story, first with comics, then radio, TV, and finally the movie screen. Tye points out that Superman has resonated with generations of readers since his creation because he appeals to our best values, truth, justice, and right over wrong. Superman stops the bad guys and inspires his readers/viewers to do their best to over come obstacles. For me, that's certaintly the appeal of the character.  

Tye's writing style is crisp and easy to read. The storyline follows a natural progression that keeps the reader flipping the pages, wanting to know what happens next.

This Superman novel is a pop culture history and is filled with human heroes and villains. I'm not a big Superman fan, but the story of his endurance and appeal strikes to the heart of every reader. The novel is suited for 10-year-old and up. You don't have to be a Superman fan to enjoy this very human story behind the Man of Steel and his creators. I highly recommend this book. 

Find out more about the book and how to order it from:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dems Bears in Those Woods #5 #yosemite #vacation

We wanted to get an early start on our last full day in Yosemite because its generally cooler in the morning, so we woke up early and stuffed the backpacks with water, food, and goodies before leaving Wawona around 8. We arrived at the valley floor around 9, parked, and hopped on the shuttle to take us to Mirror Lake.

Now, for me, the ambience of going to Mirror Lake is #1 it's a lake, #2 you see the reflection of Half Dome in the water. We were dropped off at the stop and decided to take the dirt foot path up the 1 mile hike. Mules also use the dirt path so my 6-year-old was totally grossed out. Mind you, at 6, boys have a bad habit of being a little gross themselves…

Mirror Lake

When we arrived, we discovered a trickle of a lake. The area was becoming "reclaimed," and in the process of becoming a stream. The boys took off their shoes and walked through the water, having a blast. Eventually, my husband and I crossed over. Down by the dam, plenty of people were out sunning and playing in the water. We found some shade and pulled out our lunches. A squirrel found us and watched us through narrow, intense eyes. I don't know if he expected a crumb or two, but the rangers told us not to feed the wild life so we didn't.

Hiking back from Mirror Lake

We hiked back on the road and made our way back to Yosemite Village. I raised my hand and Ranger Elsa signed me in as a Jr. Ranger. Heck, I figured if Andrew could do it, so could I.

I'm a Jr. Ranger!

When we returned to the valley floor, we headed over to Yosemite Falls.  The hike was about 3/4 miles and pretty flat - easy for Joe to do.  The falls is rather high up, but this time of the year, in Summer, it's a bit of a trickle.  A lot of people were down at the base of the falls so it was kind of crowded.  My husband got some great black and white shots.

Lower Yosemite Falls 

Then it was time for the most important adventure of the trip – Souvenir Hunting! We hit up the big store in the village. It had everything – food, beer, postcards, and clothes. I found a comfy burgundy sweatshirt to wear and Andrew found a happy face bottle that said 'Yosemite.' Joe got a red Yosemite baseball cap.

Our backpacks now stuffed to the max with souvenirs, we drove back to Wawona and fixed up tacos for dinner. Andrew and I went to Campfire with a Ranger. Our ranger played a little guitar for us. We sang "This land is Our Land" and even learned what a raven sounds like.

When Saturday morning rolled around it was time to go. My air mattress was practically flat after five days! We cooked up breakfast with bacon and camp toast and everyone chipped in to tear down our campsite. The journey home back to Castaic took about 3 ½ hours.

There are things I wish I could have done like go to Glacier Point and look at the stars. I love astronomy and the skies are so clear up in Yosemite, it was music to my soul. I wish I could have seen the blacksmith in Wawona and a couple more waterfalls. I can honestly say I'm looking forward to going back this October to see what the park looks like in the fall.

The best part of Yosemite was just spending time with my family, learning about the park, and sharing my love of the outdoors with my boys. Oh, and it's features, the valleys, rivers, and granite reminded me of growing up in New Hampshire.

How many of you have visited Yosemite? What's your "take away?" For those who haven't been, what time of the year would you want to go and why?

Thanks for hiking with me.