Tag Archive | Susan M Baganz

Spatzle Speaks: Christmas Extravaganza Book Reviews

I’m back! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Mom doesn’t usually want me playing on her computer. She’s afraid I’ll post something embarrassing on Facebook as if I could do better than she does with that?

Next week three fabulous Christmas novellas are releasing and they are already available for preorder so get yours now!. Well, to be honest, there are more, but these are the only three I’m personally acquainted with, and since mom is so nice, I’m even including hers on this list.

Clear As Ice by Penelope Marzec

Marzec takes Haylie, a former Olympic ice skater with a stalker and a fear of dogs and matches her up with Ethan, a paramedic with serious issues with Christmas and God. The dog, Rufus, is the real star of this story as he is the ultimate matchmaker for these two. This immediately gains it five bones in my book, because I’m pro-dog because I am a dog. Haylie is afraid of relationships but finds that the handsome paramedic keeps showing up in her life, mostly because of his dog. Can Ethan break down the barriers to her heart and can Haylie help restore his faith in God and the wonder of Christmas in his?

Crazy Creek Christmas by Lisa J. Lickel

Leah Hane’s is without roots. She finds a job working as a cook at the Rocking J Ranch in Crazy Creek, Wyoming. This ragtag bunch of cowboys need more than good meals though. She quickly finds herself needed and helping them in a variety of ways as they strive to save the ranch from being sold.

Noel Johnsen is the legitimate heir to the property, or so he thinks. His family was lost in a horrific accident and Christmas brings up bad memories of that loss. He wants to ditch his family’s homestead but his brother-in-law who had been running the place is reluctant and the new cook they hired keeps butting her nose in where it’s not wanted. Soon more than the land is at stake…but his heart as well.

I love this ranch story. I love the outdoors and running around outside so I was for them keeping the ranch. You’ll have to read the story to find out what they do. I loved it.

Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps by Susan M. Baganz

A young woman, Noelle, hates Christmas and is paired up with an investment advisor in creating a magical gala for his company. He loves Christmas and soon finds himself attracted to the woman he’s helping out in creating his companie’s big holiday event.

Boy do I know about Wisconsin winters. I love the snow and we’ve already had plenty for me to jump around it. Mom thinks it’s funny becuase I can’t stand rain, or a bath. Regardless, this Christmas romance is sweet and mom included the family sugar cookie recipe at the end and I personally can vouch for how tasty those are.

My perspective:

All of these stories are worthy reads, so get them now and then do your dog a favor and snuggle up with them for a good Christmas reading time, hot chocolate optional. I give each story five bones, because I’m a dog and and I don’t have thumbs.

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

Spatzle Speaks: Christmas Novel and Two Novellas (Book Reviews)

CHRISTMAS NOVEL

A CHRISTMAS KIND OF PERFECT

Christine Schimpf has written a sweet Door County Christmas novel, A Christmas Kind of Perfect,  featuring none other than a best-selling author.  Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor anticipated the heavy cost that her career would bring as she lives her life in New York. Summoned back home to Door County she’s faced with all the good things she left behind, including Conrad.

Conrad regrets not going after Lila and seeing of they could somehow make their relationship work. Now she’s back but he’s already moved on to a new woman who is expecting an engagement ring this Christmas. Meeting Lila again throws him into confusion. Could he possible sacrifice more for the new woman in life or is it possible that he could rekindle a romance with Lila? And if he did, would she abandon him again?

As sparks fly along with the snow, can Lila and Conrad find their way back to a love they left behind years ago and discover a Christmas miracle? A lovely look at the holidays in the beautiful Door County peninsula of Wisconsin.

CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA NOVELLAS

GABRIEL’S GIFT 

Gabriel’s Gift is a sweet Christmas Regency Romance by my mom. Last week she released two new novels that were Gothic romances. Let me make it clear that this is not part of that series and this instead is a sweet tale.

Gabriel has moved to his first job as a minister and unexpectedly finds the girl he longed to marry but had lost track of.

Matilda is shocked to find her childhood friend is now pastoring their local church. But the dreams she once had of a future wtih him died when her father took  his life. She is not worthy enough to be the wife of a minister. Finding an abandoned baby in  the church however awakens longings and fears within her about her future.

Gabriel seeks to challenge his new congregation to a vital faith as they celebrate Advent and the coming Christ. All the while he longs to court Matilda but first needs to minister to her heart with the greatest gift of all: God’s grace and the love He showed us all through the birth of a humble child.

THE CHRISTMAS LIST

This is a sweet holiday novel by Dixie Jarchow, called The Christmas List

Mandy likes to make lists for everything and even has one for choosing a husband. Her goal is keep structure in her life and avoid suprises. This is how she believes she can be truly happy.

Max is spontaneous and loves sculpting. He’s never made a list in his life believing that God is ultimately in control anyway.

When Max finds he has more work than he can handle, he hires Mandy to take care of the paperwork for his business. Yet when love comes calling, she struggles to keep her own emotional accounts in balance, especially around Max.

Somehow they both need to learn from each other: that a little structure can be good, and that maybe God’s list is better than any either of them could come up with. A story about opposites attracting and how can use our strengths to help each other while smoothing out our rough edges, and all with a holiday twist.

I give all three of these stories five bones, because holiday reads are always fun and I’m a dog, I don’t have thumbs.

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

 

Spatlze Speaks: Black Friday and Black Diamond Gothic Regencies (Book Reviews)

There must be some odd coincidence that the Black Diamond Gothic Regency series by my mom, would release on Black Friday with a special bonus! Now, as a dog can I just say I find it clever that the author, who happens to be my mom, put an animal in each of these books as a supporting role? In the first three there features a parrot, a dog, and a talking crow! I won’t tell you which appears where, you’ll have to read them to find out.

THE BARON’S BLUNDER

First of all let’s just remember that  The Baron’s Blunder which released last year, re-releases today for FREE and with a new cover and fresh revisions. How cool is that? The story is a prequel to the series and introduces us to the evil Black Diamond who becomes a nemesis to Lord Marcus Remington’s friends and family.

The Honorable Henrietta Allendale, sister to Lord Remington, is unbeknownst to her brother acting as a spy for the War Office at Whitehall. When she runs into Lord Charles Percy she suspects something is off with the man who introduces himself originally as “Mr.” Percy instead. And she didn’t need him to save them from a highwayman. She was perfectly capable of dispatching the criminal herself.

As the couple verbally spar she shows her abilities and uncovers his lie. Can she trust a man who would deceive her so, even though it was to avoid a title-seeking debutant of which she was most definitely not. But something about the handsome lord intrigues her.

Lord Percy was adverse to marriage until he met Miss Allendale. But courtship must take a back seat to keeping her alive from the minions of the Black Diamond who now have her as their target simply because she was seen with him. Can he save her and win her heart at the same time? Or will they all lose the greatest treasure of all, love?

THE VIRTUOUS VISCOUNT

The first full-length novel in The Black Diamond Gothic Regency series is The Virtuous Viscount.  Lord Marcus Remington has decided it is time to find a wife. He didn’t expect her to be in the wreckage of a carriage in the middle of a spring storm, but rescuing Miss Josephine Storm challenges his heart and very character of the man known as the Virtuous Viscount. But when the injured young woman weighs heavy on the viscount’s mind, convention goes out the window.

As Miss Josephine Storm recovers her physical health, her heart is in even more danger. When The Black Diamond’s plot to take over Britain puts Marcus and his friends in the criminal’s cross-hairs, Josie’s life is threatened. Marcus must chance losing her good favor and risk his virtuous reputation in order to save her life. Can Josie believe in the man she thought she knew when the facts say otherwise?

 

LORD PHILLIP’S FOLLY

The second full-length novel in The Black Diamond Gothic Regency series also releases today! Lord Phillip’s Folly features the first of Lord Remington’s friends to find himself faced with the challenges of love and courtship.

No good deed goes unpunished.Lord Phillip Westcombe is a younger son and sufficiently independent. He has no need upset his tidy life with the messiness of love, but when he comes to the rescue of the lovely Lady Elizabeth Follett, and the two are found in a compromising position, his life takes an unexpected turn. Barely knowing each other, they are forced to wed.

Embarking on a new life they must learn to trust God as they face an evil which threatens their lives and the security of the British Empire. Will the minions of the Black Diamond–the bounder who owns the soul of Elizabeth’s father–succeed in their evil plans? Will Phillip and Elizabeth’s new love and faith survive the test that awaits them? Or will they all fall to the Black Diamond?

I strongly recommend all three of these books and there are three more to come in 2018! Sir Michael’s Mayhem, Lord Harrow’s Heart, and The Captain’s Conquest. And all feature an animal as part of the supporting cast including a ferret, a kitten, and a sheep? Yes! All these books get five bones because I’m biased and these books are by my mom!

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

Spatzle Speaks: Bratwurst & Bridges (Book Review)

My mom loves to write books and she write the rough draft of this one two years ago. She even asked for prayer for when she wrote it. I had to bark to get her attention so make sure I could get outside. Bratwurst & Bridges was a consuming story.

What surprises me is how much of my mom is in this story – her heart. I don’t think she even realized just how much of her is in there. But as her dog, I know.

Pastor Dan’s wife died, and along with losing his best friend, and partner in life, he lost his chance to be a father. His wife had and he had lost several babies due to miscarriages and they had just begun to consider adoption. But now she was gone. A year later, he still grieved but had buried himself in ministry. Finally his boss, Senior Pastor Andrew, forced Dan on a leave of absence to get help and focus on his grief.

It’s not easy for a helper to get help. It takes courage. Could Dan do this? Or would he quit and walk away from ministry?

He’d sold his house and associated memories and moved into a new apartment. A single mom with two rambunctious children lives across the hall. Skye knows about God but doesn’t believe He would be interested in her, but since the handsome pastor has moved across the hall, she finds that her art has changed and she starts to ask him questions.

Zumba, skiing and true love? Can a single mom help a grieving pastor heal? Guess you’ll have to read it to find out! I give it five bones because it’s an awesome story and the way she weaves grief and new life and love together is wonderful. Not that I’m biased because the author is my mom…

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

What’s With Your Crazy Titles?

I am often asked why the books in my Orchard Hill series are titled so oddly. It’s a great question! Figured this was a good time to answer it.

PestoandPotholes2I wrote a book and titled it Pesto & Potholes because it was a metaphor for the journey my character was going to take. The pothole was her emotional pain from an abusive past. Getting out is a rocky process but takes help. The pesto was because Tony was an Italian chef and that is a favorite sauce in our home. So a savory and sweet romance was born. The ninjas were added because someone challenged me to put them in so, I did!

SalsaandSpeedbumps copy (2)Then a Facebook friend suggested my next book be called Salsa & Speed Bumps. I figured “Why not?” Challenge accepted. I took Renata’s roommate from Pesto & Potholes and gave her a bumpy journey with an unexpected pregnancy due to date rape and the challenge ripple effects of that. Even the unfair judgments of those in her church toward her and her new boyfriend, Roberto, became speed bumps on their way to happiness. Robbie, my Hispanic hero added some spice to the story.

FetaandFreewaysCover copyThe challenge was on to continue with a food theme combined with some road-related term. Book three became Feta & Freeways. I wanted to write a story based on a band I’m a fan of, Burlap to Cashmere. I was inspired by their journey. Since the band has Greek roots, I gave that to my character, Nikolos. Burlap to Cashmere is based out in the New York area – but my guys are from Wisconsin. Freeways – they take a journey – emotionally and spiritually as the band travels around the United States.

Not all titles will continue to be ethnically related, however. Johnny is Niko’s cousin and bandmate in Feta & Freeways. Book four is Root Beer & Roadblocks, due to release February 2017. Sprecher root beer is made in Wisconsin and features in the story. While Johnny is Greek, Katie is Irish in her background. I went with a more American theme. Johnny faces several roadblocks to his happiness.

Up after that will be Pastor Dan Wink’s story. He has a Germanic heritage and since Bratwurst is a Wisconsin specialty, that book is called Bratwurst & Bridges. He becomes the bridge to help his neighbor, Skye (Irish) come to know Christ as she becomes the bridge that brings him back to life from his complicated grief.

Book number six is Donuts & Detours. No ethnicity at all. She’s a baker and he’s a mechanic/tow-truck driver and there are a few detours on their way to their happily-ever-after, including a hidden identity. But we all keep secrets, don’t we?

I hope to write Truffles & Traffic this November, because someone has begged for me to have a title with truffles in it! I guess those will have to be a part of any party or giveaway for that book! The basis of the story is based on a real-life romance I watched happen eons ago. Names and careers are changed to protect the lovebirds.

Food continues to play a role in all the stories as does the ongoing challenge to use road terms for metaphors for the journey my characters take. 

I’m open to suggestions for future titles. Since this series takes place in the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, only traffic or food that can be found there can apply.

Here are some possibilities – so feel free to weigh in on what you, as a reader, would like to see next:

Cream Puffs & Crossroads (cream puffs are a Wisconsin State Fair specialty!)

Ramen & Roadkill (I put this here as a joke but I do have some friends begging me to write this!)

Lattes and Lanes or Espresso & Expressway  or Coffee & Concrete (similar concepts but which one???)

Pickles & Pavement  (seriously, someone suggested this!) Perhaps Panini’s & Pavement?

Apples & Alleys 

Jellybeans & Junctions

Rocky Road & Round-a-bouts 

Go ahead and be creative! Remember – Salsa & Speedbumps was birthed out of a challenge to write it. As will be Truffles & Traffic. Maybe your choice will be the title of a future story too!

burlaptocashmere_cvr-hi1

Feta & Freeways is up for a Goodreads giveaway starting Tuesday, October 4th. The giveaway includes a print copy of the novel along with a compact disc of Burlap to Cashmere’s self-titled album which was the soundtrack I listened to as I wrote the book! It’s hard to get physical copies of music anymore so this was a rare find and I’m sharing it with TWO lucky winners.

Spatzle Speaks: The Baron’s Blunder (Book Review)


THE Baron's BlunderMy mom, Susan M. Baganz, wrote a book as part of the Love is . . . series with Prism Book Group.
Now, generally I like mom’s writing but she went and put a bird in a book? What was she thinking? We have a bird in our home but Quincy the Quaker parrot  just makes messes. And his talk? Utter nonsense.

The Baron’s Blunder illustrates the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, “Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth.” While this is part of the Love is . . . series it is also a prequel for mom’s Regency Romances, the first of which will  be available Spring 2017. The Virtuous Viscount at least has a dog. ‘Nuff said.

Lord Charles Percy is wealthy, titled and single. All that Jane Austen would say makes him in desperate need of a wife. Charles isn’t really interested in that. He’s got secret work he does for the British government. (shhh. He’s a spy!). And he seems to have developed a penchant for capturing ne’r-do-wells who would rob coaches.

That’s how he meets the beautiful Honorable Henrietta Allendale, sister to Viscount Remington. She’s a little older than your normal debutante and sees no need for a husband. She’s a bit strong-willed and unbeknownst to anyone, she’s also, gasp! A spy!

Well, he rescues her when she didn’t really need rescuing. He lies. She suspects. She rescues him and then he rescues her but at the expense of . . . well, let’s just say while both start out refusing marriage, one changes their mind.

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.

There’s a lot packed into this novella and it’s a delightful romp filled with wit, adventure and love. So go buy it so mom can afford to purchase me more bully rings. Oh, wait. Maybe you shouldn’t. She might choose to get my hair cut instead and I hate going to the groomers. I’ll give it five bones anyway because she’s my mom and I love her. And in spite of a bird being this story, I know she loves me best.

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Speaks: Salsa and Speed Bumps (Book Review)

SalsaandSpeedbumps copy (2)Mom said I shouldn’t be reviewing her book. But I insisted (as did some of my fans). Mom wrote a cool book called Salsa & Speed Bumps and it’s pretty good even if there is no dog in it.

But Stephanie would like a dog. There’s a scene in there where they talk about it. I guess that’s close enough since her apartment won’t allow them to have one. *sigh* What’s up with human’s and those kinds of restrictions anyway? We’re man’s best friend, aren’t we? I’m Mom’s best friend and her biggest fan.

Here’s the “puppy” scene. It’s my favorite: 

 “Christmas is just around the corner.”
   “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
    “Come on, Mom and Dad didn’t do too bad getting a tree up and decorated.”
    “They did a fine job. Much better than I could have managed with my bulging belly getting in the way.”
   “I happen to be fond of your bulging belly. Reminds me of Santa Claus.”
   “Very funny.” She snuggled up to Robbie’s side. “If you had a wish for Christmas, what would it be?”
   “That forty years from now, I would be as in love with you as I am today.”
   Stephanie smiled. “I like that.”
   “Did you have Christmas wish?”
   “Mine isn’t big enough.”
   “What was it?”
   “You’ll laugh at me.”
   “Come on, I want to know.”
   “I want a puppy.”
   “A puppy.”
   “Yes, a puppy.”
   “We may need to wait a while for that one. Dogs aren’t allowed on our lease.”
   “I know, but you asked. Wishes don’t have to be realistic.”
   “No, they don’t. But how about I lick your face and pant in your ear. Will that do in the meantime?”
   Stephanie grinned and gave her husband a kiss, “Oh, that’ll do.”

If you read Pesto & Potholes, you’ll recognize Stephanie as Renata’s roommate. But Renata has moved on and now Stephanie is facing a big challenge. New life. New love. New battles.

Roberto is a cute lawyer. He has blue eyes. I have one brown and one blue eye. Why couldn’t Mom write a character like that? Maybe someday? Anyway, he’s a stand-up guy trying to do the right thing and not letting Stephanie’s challenge keep him from seeking a relationship with her. He’s got his own issues anyway although looking at him one would never know that. But Mom struggles to with some things that most would never know about (Except me. I am after all her best friend).

As the two of them date they both face challenges along the way. I gotta say that there’s a little more “heat” and adventure in this book than in Pesto & Potholes. Spicy salsa really isn’t my thing but I do like the chips. Nacho cheese is fine too. But I digress. Are there ninjas? Yeah, but not like in Pesto & Potholes. Mom assures me this is the last book they show up in. There are several more in this series and Feta & Freeways is up next (I like cheese).

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.

I appreciate how Mom wove faith into this and it’s fun seeing the down side as well as the blessings of being part of a church and how that hindered and helped Stephanie and Roberto. Mom said it’s so easy, even as a Christian to judge on outward appearances and that sometimes she’s ashamed to admit she does that too. Ooops. That’s probably supposed to be confidential. 

Mom writes historical fiction and she said that there is a phrase in the book that dates back to the early 1800’s and she wants to know if readers can find it. She said it’s in there three times! Guess she got confused what century she was writing for.

I give my mom five bones and lots of kisses for this book. She’s worked very hard on it. No stars, because I’m a dog.

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