Stephanie Burkhart's Blog, page 3

May 24, 2016



Book Review for: The Invasion of the TearlingWritten by: Erika JohansenHarper CollinsISBN: 978-0-06-229039-7I read: the hardback
5 StarsRiveting storytelling!
Johansen pens an enthralling sequel with "The Invasion of the Tearling." Kelsea's kingdom is invaded by the Mort, and she must master her power and secrets or the Tear will die.
Picking up where book one leaves off, Kelsea is preparing for invasion. While this is heavy on her mind so are other matters - the Arvath and their greed, her emotional growing pains, and her struggles to teach herself the power of her sapphires. Secrets, too, threaten to undermine her. Who really is the red queen? What is the Fetch trying to atone for, and why does Row Finn need forgiveness?
Johansen's writing is easy to read and she's a master at dropping clues. It's the reader's job to put them together. The plot pushes forward like a locomotive, unable to hold back.
The characterization is spot on, depicting Kelsea's triumphs, and emotional struggles with the darkness from the stones that threatens to engulf her. The supporting cast each have stories that tug on the reader's heartstrings.

Invasion of the Tearling is a fictional fantasy novel that I would recommend for 18 years old and up for strong language, drug use, and sexual situations. It's a fantastic read, completely riveting, and will leave the reader breathless. I couldn't stop turning the pages!
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Published on May 24, 2016 01:30 • 8 views

May 19, 2016



Back in March, I decided to get (HAT) High Adventure Team, Basic Backpacking certified for the boy scouts. As a cub scout leader, I could introduce the appropriate high adventure awards to my pack and as a Committee Member of my older son’s boy scout troop, I could help the boys earn high adventure awards. 
Truth be told, I think I like scouting just as much as my boys. I love getting out in nature and exploring different places.


And it doesn’t get better than going backpacking. Everything you need is in your backpack so you better pack it tight and just what you need!
I took the Indoor Session in March and now it was time for the practical, Outdoor Session.
Our destination: A 5 mile hike to Bear Trap Camp in the Los Padres National Forest.
The challenge: heading out we had 1,000 foot change in elevation from 3900 feet to 5000 and two hills.
On the journey: our HAT facilitator, Bill, myself, Steve and Robert. Along for the ride were my husband and my 14 year old son.
We met up in Ojai at the local café for b-fast. I’m not much for eggs so I got a Belgium waffle and bacon.  


After coffee and food we drove approximately 30 miles north of Ojai and arrived at Reyes Creek Campground. We parked our cars at the trailhead and checked our backpacks.
Mine fit alright. Empty it was about 5 pounds. Full, it was 28 pounds! I had a pillow, change of clothes, 10 essentials, camp shoes, personal hygiene items, sleeping bag, mat, and lunch. I didn’t even carry the tent. My husband did. Bless him. I think his backpack was around 35 pounds.


Since I figured I would be the slowest, I offered to go first and be the pacesetter. It was sunny, but not too hot. Almost immediately we were climbing. I had to control my breathing. It leveled out a bit then we hit the switchbacks. That made going up the first hill easier. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath, but I tried not to linger. They say you should go about 2 mph and allow 1 hour for 1000 feet of elevation which proved accurate. Around 2 we arrived at Upper Reyes Campground #1 – a 3 mile journey. We had lunch – chicken from a can, lettuce, and pita which I packed along with a cutie orange. And to be honest, I felt like I was starving. I haven’t eaten like that since the Army!

After lunch we hiked up another hill with switchbacks and then down the other side. At the bottom was a full, running creek and Bear Trap Campgrounds. It was 4 pm! Cool air settled over us and I dug out my sweat jacket, glad I brought it, but to be honest, I didn’t pack the right clothes. I didn’t have a set of pants or thermals so that was a learning experience for me. I got a campfire going and we talked about different types of cooking stoves when backpacking. We discussed the “bear”muda triangle, where to set up tents and cooked a jambalaya in a big pot. I loved it. 


I hung out by the fire to stay warm before retiring for the night. Thankfully no bears paid us a visit, but I did smell a skunk trolling through our campsite. The next morning, I was the last to get up. I crept toward the fire, warmed up, ate some oatmeal and drank some camp coffee. It was Trader Joes. Highly recommended.


My husband and son helped me pack up my tent since I was lagging behind. After taking some pictures, we were off. It was 830 amish. Immediately, we were climbing up a steep hill. I had to stop once to catch my breath, but after that I was good. We made good time to the Upper Reyes Campground, took a break, and kept on hiking. We arrived at the trailhead around 1130. I was tired and sore, but thrilled too. I did it! Not bad for being 47. I even think I lost 5 pounds. Now I’m looking forward to bringing hiking and backpacking adventures to my son’s boy scout troop. 


Does anyone else hike? I’d love to hear about your hiking or backpacking adventures and tips.
Scout on!Steph PS – Hope you like the pictures. 
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Published on May 19, 2016 01:30 • 7 views

May 17, 2016



Book Review for: The MartianWritten by: Andy WeirRandom House PublishingI read: the ebookYes, I saw the movie!
4 StarsA Compelling story of the Human Spirit
Weir pens a futuristic novel that one can believe will come true with “The Martian.” Man has developed the technology to venture to Mars. Our hero, Mark Watney, is a member of the 6 person Ares 3 crew. Six days into the mission, a sand storm forces the crew to evacuate. Watney is injured during the evacuation and presumed dead. Only he isn’t. As the crew of the Hermes head back toward Earth, Watney must survive on Mars by himself. 
Problems pop out of the woodwork. There’s Watney’s immediate dilemma on Mars – making food and water, coupled with NASA’s political issues – what to do once they find out Watney is alive. There’s plenty of twists, turns, and unexpected challenges. 
Weir balances the characters with a fine touch. They’re well-rounded, flawed, and realistic. While the book is an easy read for the most part, I got bogged down on a lot of the technical aspects that Weir tries to explain. If anything, this is why I enjoyed the movie more than the book. The movie made the science easy to understand. 
What works well is the believability that his could happen in the near future. Weir’s researched the topic well and it shows in the realism he brings to the novel, not only in the science but in the characters. Watney’s character inspires hope despite his challenges. Readers can connect and empathize with his plight. 
This is a mainstream fiction book that sparks the reader’s imagination. I would recommend this book for 12 years old and up. Gripping and honest, “The Martian” will keep readers turning the pages to find out what is going to happen next. 
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Published on May 17, 2016 01:30 • 9 views

May 15, 2016

Hi all, I'm participating in the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday. This month, I'll be taking snippets from my sweet vintage romance, Journey of the Heart. You can find the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday list at:



About this snippet:  James makes his case.

ENJOY THIS SNIPPET:

"You seem like a fair man, Mr. Smith. At least you were with me. I believe if you offer Miss Rachel one thousand dollars, you'll recoup your investment and more," said James."Now, young man, what do you know about wine?"
"Not much, but I do know human nature. You respected her father and he, you, enough to share an expensive bottle of wine. Honor that respect now. I suspect if Miss Rachel didn't have to make this offer to you, she wouldn't have. She knew you and her father had a good relationship. Honor that like you honored my service."
JOURNEY OF THE HEART: 
BLURB:  

James returns to his home in California after World War II only to find out he's lost his farm. His way of life gone, James becomes a journeyman, selling Bibles, looking for a sense of purpose. 

Rachel Santori's winery is in trouble. She's looking for someone to trust. When Rachel meets James, she can't deny how he penetrates her soul with his long, lonely looks. 

Can James find a sense of belonging at Rachel's winery? Can love mend both their weary hearts?

Reviews:5 Stars, AngelE, Amazon Reviewer:  "I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author."

5 Stars, Joy Cagil, Amazon Reviewr: "The story is fluid, pleasant, and the characters are very well drawn."

5 Stars, Nicole Laverdure, Amazon Reviewer:  "I loved this story, it's sweet and found it a small interlude to enjoy. I recommend this novella!"

BUY LINKS:AMAZON: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journ...

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

Kobo:https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebo...
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Published on May 15, 2016 01:30 • 6 views

May 8, 2016

Hi all, I'm participating in the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday. This month, I'll be taking snippets from my sweet vintage romance, Journey of the Heart. You can find the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday list at:




About this snippet:  James gets involved.

ENJOY THIS SNIPPET:


"There's no need for you to take advantage of Miss Rachel because her parents aren't here," Vito paused for breath. "The wine will sell – at a good price, and you know it."

"All right – eight hundred dollars."

"Wait a minute, Sir." James interrupted and peered at Rachel's spellbinding eyes for a second before looking at Mr. Smith. "You've tasted this vintage before?"

"I have.""So you know how much it's worth?"
 "I do." 
JOURNEY OF THE HEART: 
BLURB:  

James returns to his home in California after World War II only to find out he's lost his farm. His way of life gone, James becomes a journeyman, selling Bibles, looking for a sense of purpose. 

Rachel Santori's winery is in trouble. She's looking for someone to trust. When Rachel meets James, she can't deny how he penetrates her soul with his long, lonely looks. 

Can James find a sense of belonging at Rachel's winery? Can love mend both their weary hearts?

Reviews:5 Stars, AngelE, Amazon Reviewer:  "I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author."

5 Stars, Joy Cagil, Amazon Reviewr: "The story is fluid, pleasant, and the characters are very well drawn."

5 Stars, Nicole Laverdure, Amazon Reviewer:  "I loved this story, it's sweet and found it a small interlude to enjoy. I recommend this novella!"

BUY LINKS:AMAZON: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journ...

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

Kobo:https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebo...
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Published on May 08, 2016 01:30 • 10 views

May 1, 2016

Hi all, I'm participating in the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday. This month, I'll be taking snippets from my sweet vintage romance, Journey of the Heart. You can find the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday list at:




About this snippet:  The conversation continues. Rachel is in a "pickle." 

ENJOY THIS SNIPPET:


"The harvest is coming and I need to be able to pay my workers."James slowly inched closer, listening intently."I can offer you five hundred dollars.""Now, now, Mr. Smith." The elderly gentleman tapped his gnarled finger on the counter. "You know the wine is worth much more than that. Five hundred is not a fair price.""Vito, I'm running a business."
"There's no need for you to take advantage of Miss Rachel because her parents aren't here." H
JOURNEY OF THE HEART: 
BLURB:  

James returns to his home in California after World War II only to find out he's lost his farm. His way of life gone, James becomes a journeyman, selling Bibles, looking for a sense of purpose. 

Rachel Santori's winery is in trouble. She's looking for someone to trust. When Rachel meets James, she can't deny how he penetrates her soul with his long, lonely looks. 

Can James find a sense of belonging at Rachel's winery? Can love mend both their weary hearts?

Reviews:5 Stars, AngelE, Amazon Reviewer:  "I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author."

5 Stars, Joy Cagil, Amazon Reviewr: "The story is fluid, pleasant, and the characters are very well drawn."

5 Stars, Nicole Laverdure, Amazon Reviewer:  "I loved this story, it's sweet and found it a small interlude to enjoy. I recommend this novella!"

BUY LINKS:AMAZON: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journ...

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

Kobo:https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebo...
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Published on May 01, 2016 01:30 • 6 views

April 26, 2016



Book Review for: Finger Lickin' FifteenWritten by: Janet EvanovichSt. Martin's PressISBN: 978-0-312-38328-2I read: the hardback
4 stars
Entertaining!
Evanovich pens a fun, character driven, totally entertaining cozy mystery with "Finger Lickin' Fifteen." Lula, Stephanie's plus sized friend, is a witness to a gruesome murder and the only police officer she trusts is Joe Morelli. Unfortunately, Stephanie and Joe are 'off.' The cherry on the top? Ranger, who runs a security company, has asked Stephanie to help him find out who is breaking into his clients' homes. Stephanie has her hands full with catching her own skips, Ranger's job, and keeping Lula safe.
Stephanie and Lula soon learn the murder victim is Stanley Chipotle, a world's famous chef who was entered into a local BBQ contest. Lula decides the only way to catch the killers is to enter into the BBQ contest herself, but she's got no idea how to cook BBQ. She enlists the help of Stephanie's grandma, and Larry the fireman, who has a side job as the "Cluck-in-the-Bucket" chicken.
The stakes get higher when Joe identifies Marco the Maniac as Chipotle's killer. Marco is after Lula, too. Can Lula and Stephanie capture Chipotle's killer without losing their own heads and burning the BBQ?
This effort was much better than "Plum Spooky." The writing is easy to read and instinctively makes the reader feel like a fly on the wall watching the events unfold.
The characters are likable and engaging, driving most of the action. There are plenty of laughs as Lula and Grandma attempt to perfect their BBQ. This was a very entertaining installment of the Stephanie Plum series. It reads fine as a stand alone and I was biting my nails up until the very end. This is a great book to curl up with next to the fireplace on a rainy weekend.
Question: Who's your favorite Stephanie Plum series character? 

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Published on April 26, 2016 01:30 • 14 views

April 24, 2016

Hi all, I'm participating in the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday. This month, I'll be taking snippets from my sweet vintage romance, Journey of the Heart. You can find the Weekend Warriors Snippet Sunday list at:



About this snippet:  

ENJOY THIS SNIPPET:


James walked toward the counter, his sandwich and soda in hand. Something in his gut told him she needed help – really needed it. The sound of her voice? The way she avoided the man's question? The hint of desperation in her expressive eyes? "I'd like to sell you three cases of my best wine."He raised a bushy eyebrow, "The 1928 Chardonnay?""Yes."
"Why, I shared a bottle with your father before he died. He was very proud of that vintage – wanted to save it for special occasions."
JOURNEY OF THE HEART: 
BLURB:  

James returns to his home in California after World War II only to find out he's lost his farm. His way of life gone, James becomes a journeyman, selling Bibles, looking for a sense of purpose. 

Rachel Santori's winery is in trouble. She's looking for someone to trust. When Rachel meets James, she can't deny how he penetrates her soul with his long, lonely looks. 

Can James find a sense of belonging at Rachel's winery? Can love mend both their weary hearts?

Reviews:5 Stars, AngelE, Amazon Reviewer:  "I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author."

5 Stars, Joy Cagil, Amazon Reviewr: "The story is fluid, pleasant, and the characters are very well drawn."

5 Stars, Nicole Laverdure, Amazon Reviewer:  "I loved this story, it's sweet and found it a small interlude to enjoy. I recommend this novella!"

BUY LINKS:AMAZON: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journ...

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

Kobo:https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebo...
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Published on April 24, 2016 01:30 • 7 views

April 15, 2016

Antigone circa 1992I'm a firm believer in the Toyota Corolla. This dependable and reliable car is one of the best selling cars worldwide and it just turned 50 in the USA!
My 2nd care was a 1985 Toyota Corolla. I got it 2ndhand in 1988. It was red, had no AC (air conditioning) a hatchback, and had 2 doors. It said "twin cam" on the side and it was a stick. (manual transmission). I was in the Army back then, back before I had kids, and it followed me to the 295th MP Company at the Seneca Army Depot in New York. I loved exploring upstate New York in my little "putt-putt." Eventually I gave it a name - Antigone.
My corolla had character. All I had to do was keep up with oil changes and rotate the tires. It was mega-dependable and fun to drive. In 1989 when I was assigned to Fulda, Germany, I shipped the car overseas and drove it all over Europe. Antigone visited Berlin, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Paris, France, Berchesgarten and Garmish. Maintenance was easy. I must have went over 400,000 miles while Germany. (I was young back then and didn't pay much attention to the mileage, just enough to get my oil changes).
In 1992 I had it shipped to Ft. Irwin, CA. Boy, did I miss not having AC then! I kept up with my maintenance, but Antigone finally sprung a gasket and starting leaking so I sold her in 1994.
The Corolla has gone through 11 generations since 1966. Antigone was the 5th generation. Corollas are a compact car and nowadays you find them in automatic with 4 doors.
There's a reason why Corollas are popular: They've got great gas mileage, they're dependable, easy to care for, and fun to drive. With just a little love, they'll last forever.
Last year I bought another Corolla. I drive 32 miles each way to work and I needed a compact car with good gas mileage that was affordable and fun to drive. The Corolla fit the bill. I found one in a stick, but most are automatics now. It's got 4 doors, a moon roof, and AC - a must in southern California.
My 9 year old son has named the car "Shortez," (the z is silent) because it's small and short compared to our 4Runner.  Shortez (the z is silent) 2015We've already taken Shorte on a trip to Pismo Beach and we're looking forward to exploring California with him.
So, all said, "Happy Birthday Toyota Corolla!" You're one fun and dependable car. Now, you just need a Hybrid model.
Question for you: Do you have a Toyota? If so, what make? If you don't have a Toyota, what was your first car?  For those curious about my 1stcar, let me know.
Smiles to all
Steph
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Published on April 15, 2016 01:30 • 19 views

April 12, 2016




















Book Review for: Andy Warhol was a HoarderWritten by: Claudia KalbNational Geographic SocietyISBN: 978-1-4262-1467-7I read: the ebook
4 Stars
Engrossing and Insightful
Kalb paints a picture of how mental illness has influenced some of the greatest personalities in history. Topics explored: Did Lincoln suffer from depression? Was Einstein on the autistic spectrum? Did George Gershwin have ADHD? There's also a look at Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, and Betty Ford. Many aspects of the human psyche are explored including OCD, hoarding, and transgender.
Each story discusses the historical surrounding of the celebrity's life, then Kalb makes her case for why that person had a mental health condition. Kalb gives the reader a fascinating look into what made some of history's most poignant characters tick.
Kalb's writing style is easy to read and engages the reader. Her tone is genuine and sincere. How Andy Warhol hid his hoarding behavior was the story that surprised me the most. Betty Ford's story was the one that touched me the most as it's a struggle many can identify with.
The book takes a psychological look at the unique people who have touched our lives. It's, fascinating, riveting, and engrossing. I highly recommend this book.
Note: April is National Austism Month. Has austism affected your life? What support groups/resources would you recommend? 
Question for you:  Which historical figure would like you to learn more about?  Did you know Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer has ADHD? What stories inspire you? 

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Published on April 12, 2016 08:19 • 8 views