Tag Archive | love

Spatzle Speaks: Her One and Only (Book Review)

My mom’s been incredibly busy so imagine my surprise when she actually sat down to read a book that wasn’t part of work. She said she’d been wanting to read Becky Wade’s novel Her One and Only for months but hadn’t had a chance to get to it. She fell in love with Becky’s writing style when she read My Stubborn Heart which she dared to review without me. Anyway, she did it. Once she picked up the book and settled into her favorite chair I had to bark to remind her that I needed some of her attention as well.

Gray Fowler is an NFL superstar but death threats have led to his team putting him under protection. The only problem is that Dru Porter, a former marine, is too beautiful a woman for Gray to not be interested in…and she is assigned to him for several shifts every week. He tweaks her and she slowly starts to understand the secrets he’s hidden even from himself. As attraction grows between the two, the threat escalates and Gray finds that he can’t stand the thought this woman whom he’s come to admire, could possibly die to save him.

When Dru realizes she’s too close emotionally to her client she takes the high road and tells her boss, knowing that she’ll be removed from protective duty. She’s determined to find the person threatening him even as their relationship steams up. Her family is not on board with a Mustang tight-end dating the youngest child in the family (since they are Cowboy fans), and Dru becomes afraid her heart is going to get hurt if Gray can’t settle his issues with God and admit to his real feelings. I won’t say anything more lest I spoil the journey these characters take to their happily-ever-after.

Mom loved how these two strong characters bantered and grew in their relationship. Doesn’t hurt that Dru also has a dog, Fi (as in Semper Fi, she was a Marine, remember?). That alone makes the book five bones from my perspective. But you should read it yourself to see if you agree or not. 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

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Interview with Dan and Skye from Bratwurst & Bridges

With my latest installment in the Orchard Hill Romance series: Bratwurst & Bridges, due to release on the 28th, I thought it’d be fun to interview my two main characters in the story: Pastor Dan Wink and Skye O’Connell.

Dan, what did you first think about Skye when you met her? 

Dan: I admit she was a puzzle to me – the hair, the clothes, and those silly, fuzzy pink boots? Didn’t help that her son ran and hid in my apartment.

Same question for you, Skye? 

Skye: I confess I  watched him through the peephole in my door as he moved in. I was impressed by how good he looked. Imagine my shock when I found out he was a pastor. Really? I guess I unconsciously absorbed that beauty, even more, when I met him face to face. I was a mess and my kids were acting up…not the best, fuzzy booted foot to put forward in meeting a man, even if I wasn’t looking for a relationship.

Dan: Even though she irritated me that day, I do admit I found her kind of cute.

Skye: Really?

Dan: (blushes and nods)

What made you take a step further in the relationship beyond strangers living across the hall? 

Skye: I guess having gone through my own share of hard times, my heart went out to him when I saw how sad he often was. And strange things started happening since I first met him.

Dan: She kept asking questions and when I realized that first of all she had a tender, caring heart, and was lost as far as faith goes, I figured God had moved me there to be a light in her darkness in spite of the stifling grief that weighed me down.

Skye: I didn’t make it easy. I kept asking pesky questions.

Dan: And she never hesitated to call me out on my own hypocrisy. I gotta admit her compliments took me by surprise too.

Skye: Why? Surely you realize just how gorgeous you are?

Dan: (shrugs) I didn’t grow into my looks until I was out of high school and before that I was bullied because of my unusual eyes. I met Sharon and we were an item. I guess it was easier to just think she told me those things because she loved me. And I found it hard to embrace my appearance given how often people discounted my ability to minister effectively because of it.

Skye: Well, it certainly didn’t hurt where I was concerned.

Dan: (chuckling). You mean given that you couldn’t stop painting pictures of me?

Skye: (blushing) Well, you were a good subject for my art.

Skye, you mentioned that strange things started happening after you met Dan?

Skye: Yeah. Weird things. My paintings changed. And he was so nice to me. I’d never met any one who did nice things without some kind of ulterior motive.

Dan: She had a difficult time believing that God loved her and that was reason enough for me to be nice to her and help her when I was able.

It was a long time before you went on a date. Why?

Skye: Dan had these rules…

Dan: Principles or boundaries might be better words.

Skye: Fine. Initially, he wouldn’t talk to me in my apartment or his. So we’d have conversations in the hallway, or at the YMCA or sometimes over coffee at the local coffee shop. Always in public. Initially, I thought it was because he didn’t trust me. I finally realized he was not only protecting his reputation but me as well. It didn’t understand it all at first, but now I’m grateful because I know I can trust him. He’s a man of integrity and that was something new for me to encounter.

Dan: Well, Titus is as well.

Skye: True, but I wasn’t interested in Titus.

Dan: (grins and bumps her shoulder with his) I’m grateful for that.

How do you feel about your story releasing? 

Skye: I really love the cover.

Dan: You would. Why couldn’t you have put her on the cover? Fuzzy pink boots and all

Skye: Would you leave my boots out of this? I like them. They are warm and comfortable.

Dan: I’ve grown to like your boots. (eyebrows wiggle).

Skye: Good, because I’m not giving them up. Besides, you’re hot. I have to share you with an entire congregation so you can be on a book cover. Me? I kind of prefer being in your shadow.

Dan: Fair enough. If it makes you happy.

What did you learn most from your journey? 

Dan: That grief was keeping me from embracing all that life still had to offer me. And that I can move on and love and laugh and that is not a betrayal of the love I had for Sharon.

Skye: I learned about God’s grace and Dan was definitely Jesus with skin on as the saying goes. I’m grateful that God gave me far more than I had ever dreamed of for me and my children. I never expected God would use a handsome neighbor to shake my unbelief and transform my art and my heart by the power of His Holy Spirit. I’m sure glad He did.

 

Thanks for joining us! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Dan and Skye a little better without spoilers for their story releasing in a few days! 

Spatzle Speaks: A Match for Melissa (Book Review)

Mom has been busy writing and editing for others and hasn’t snuggled up with me with a good book for some time. And yes, I write that to make her feel guilty. She’s always had a liking for Regency romances and to find good Christian ones is even harder. She stumbled upon A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten and loved this sweet story.

Melissa Southwood is the daughter of an ambitious social-climbing father who wants to sell her off in exchange for a title. It’s his fondest dream. Melissa has dreams of her own, triggered even more so by finding a handsome man in a ditch. But before she could get to know him, she’s whisked back to London to be wooed by someone else.

She wants a man who is a believer and she’s not too sure about this one. When Mark, the man she rescued, shows up in town she finds herself drawn to him. Her father’s mind is set. One aristocrat desperate for money is soon pitted against another with a damaging past who has recently come to know God. Which one will win? How can she get her stubborn father to see reason?

Add in Mark’s aunt, a widow with charms of her own, and meddling relatives of Mark bent on acquiring a fortune by foul means, and you have a complicated but sweet romance that will leave you smiling with her happily-ever-after ending.

The great news is this is the first book in a series of three in the Honor’s Point Series, so we can look forward to more sweet, clean, Regencies from this fabulous new author.

I give this book five bones! Another inspirational Regency author on the scene is always to be celebrated.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Stuffing is Fine for Turkeys, Not Humans

I haven’t posted anything for some time because, well, to be honest, life has been crazy. I’ve made some changes in my life and God has given me amazing peace as He has led me on this path. I’m blessed beyond what I could adequately express.

But here’s the rub. I have Major Depressive Disorder. Most people wouldn’t guess that because I can be bubbly, energetic in communication and smile often. (An INFJ conundrum or chameleon?)

It was a lesson I learned as a child. I cried a lot in school and was made fun of for that. “Crybaby,” they would call me in my parochial school. I cried at home. No one really cared. I was just hyper-sensitive. Around fifth grade, I finally learned how to bury my hurt anger and not cry. When I was older  I told my parents I wanted to see someone, that I thought I was depressed and needed help. I was told I was just seeking attention.

Wow. I buried those feelings deeper. Eventually, I learned to pour those emotions into fiction.

 

I’ve been on a good path recently: eating better, taking around four long walks outdoors every week (sunshine and exercise), and sleeping well. But then last week it popped up again. I opened myself up to people I thought I could trust and told them how something scared me and made me anxious to the point of even having a nightmare about it. My feelings were discounted and minimized. I went home and cried. I won’t go into the issues, but it was as if confessing my fears, they had to bury their own with platitudes. I didn’t feel cared for, loved, or a valued part of the community on that team.

It’s been bothering me for days. I’ve taken walks. Taken naps. Worked. Emailed a friend. Today I had to serve at church with this team and you know what? I shed my tears over Scripture and my journal in the morning before stuffing it all down as I left the house. It was a task-oriented job so not the time for emotional discussions anyway. I tried to encourage and thank others but my heart and my hurt stayed locked away. Why would I share it again when no one cared enough about it the first time? It all bubbled back to the surface the minute I was alone in my car. The sky poured rain that mirrored the tears flowing down my face.

Stuffing is great for turkeys…not so good for humans.

I came home, ate lunch and took a nap. I try not to let my depression leak on to my kids. I take medication so I can be functional and dependable. My middle son wrote on a paper at school a few years ago stating that his mom is always happy. I had to sit him down and say, “No, I’m not. I cry. I just don’t do it in front of you because they are my adult problems and struggles, not burdens for you to carry.” When they were much younger, I used to let it spill out in frustration and when my young son drew a picture of an angry mom, I knew I had to once again get help and back on medication. At the time I also had a serious auto-immune disease complicating things and making the depression an even bigger struggle.

Let me brag on my kids for a minute. Now that they are older, when I have those days where I’m feeling on the edge…like I could snap…I warn them. “Kids, I’m really cranky today. Not sure why, but please, just be nice to me okay?” And they do. They don’t step on my last nerve to watch me explode. My youngest will give me a hug and tell me she loves me.

Yes. I have God. He is always faithful and provides for my needs and sometimes my wants. He has shown Himself to me in so many unexpected ways. I can be as grateful as possible for all of that and for the support of people around me–but gratitude doesn’t cure depression. It isn’t fixable with platitudes, a good meal, or even sometimes a hug and a shoulder to cry on (although that can be helpful and appreciated).

So if you see me in person or call me on the phone and ask how I am, I’ll likely tell you I’m fine. No offense, I’ve just learned that not everyone cares about how I’m REALLY doing. Depression and chronic illness, whether physical or emotional, is something that society as a whole, and even the Christian community, do not excel at ministering to. We get all concerned about suicides and suicide prevention – but the reality is – the problems are there long before the individual ever contemplates such drastic action.

I’m not writing this to get attention… but to ask you to open your eyes to people around you… we can get so self-absorbed (I’m an expert navel-gazer too), that we don’t often take the time to look beneath the surface to see what’s really going on in someone’s life. I want to raise awareness. I’m sure in time I’ll be doing better. Depression ebbs and flows for me and after a few more journal entries,  tears, walks and maybe even a visit to my therapist, I might wake up some morning feeling better. It will take time but it is a lonely journey. So for those of you who struggle as well, my heart and prayers go out to you. You are loved and valuable and your feelings DO matter. Hang in there. I pray someone will come along and be Jesus with skin on for you in your darkest hours so that you can make it through. That’s my prayer for myself too.

Maybe this video will show just how hard it is to always see on the surface when someone is depressed.

Spatzle Speaks: Understory (Book Review)

51vvzd4ocslLisa Lickel has  written a multi-faceted story of love, history, intrigue, sex-trafficking, dysfunctional families, and racism. UnderStory takes place in about a week but is packed full of adventure and is almost impossible to adequately describe. It’s a book one needs to experience instead.

Lily suspects something is not right with the job her brother’s push for her to take a job. Fearing for her life and for the safety of her nephew, she escapes but soon ends up wandering through the north woods of Wisconsin in a blizzard.

Cam lives in his cabin with his dogs. He’s faced unjust accusations in the past and is now enjoying peace and quiet while writing a history of his parents. When he finds Lily buried in the snow in the understory of the forest, he does everything in his power to revive her.

That’s where the story starts but it is hard to know what else to describe because I don’t want to give away spoilers. I personally love any book that has dogs in it and Lickel has included two in this story. Unlikely love overcomes insurmountable odds as criminals abound as our hero and heroine discover the truth about all that is happening as well as the ugly secrets of their own pasts. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help see things in a different and better light and in spite of challenges love can grow.

This is different from anything else Lisa Lickel has written, and probably her best book to date. It is a story that will hang with you long after the final page. I give the book five bones, because I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Speaks: Racing Hearts (Book Review)

513i2zquyjlRacing Hearts is novella number 12 in the Love Is series by Prism Book Group. The theme of the story is trust.

Rick and Jordyn are a young married couple learning to step out on their own, away from their family as Rick embarks on a new job in a new town. Along with all those  changes comes news that Jordyn is pregnant.

Rick works and takes care of his wife who is finding the pregnancy more difficult than for most. He cooks, cleans, and works full-time wearing himself out. Jordyn struggles to understand why he gets so protective of her. Learning to trust God for everything from their marriage, health, finances, and baby, makes for a story that will warm your heart…and perhaps make it race too.

I give the novella five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t do bones.

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

Spatzle Speaks: Sparks of Love (Book Review)

sparks-of-loveSpatzle the Maltese here (in case you’re new to my reviews). Sparks of Love is a novel of love and faith by Mary Ball.

Once upon a time, a young adult was accused of a crime. She left her past and her faith behind when her small town continued to judge her in spite of her innocence. Her father calls to let her know he found proof that would clear her name. He’s interrupted before he can share the news.

Her father dies before he can do so and Lynette Cunningham is forced to return to settle the estate and decide what to do next in her life. An old friendship is resurrected and a local pastor has his sights set on her. She’s determined to get through all the stuff her father saved and hopefully find the proof of her innocence her father mentioned. A series of accidents begin to make the process difficult.

The handsome young pastor also challenges her buried faith as she digs up memories. As love grows danger increases. Lynette is challenged to rethink much of what she thought she knew about her old life.

This is a book of grief and broken trust that is restored through faith and friendship. A compelling journey and a worthy read. I give it five bones because I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

5 bones for blog