Tag Archive | Wisconsin

Spatzle Speaks: Everything About You (Book Review)

EverythingAboutYou smallLisa Lickel tells wonderful stories and Everything About You is no exception. As part of the “Love is . . .” series by Prism Book Group this story illustrates the scripture “love is not proud.”

Shelly needs a movie set miracle but when the original star is unavailable and the clock is ticking, can the rough-edged farmer be transformed into a movie star in five days? Good looks only go so far. Can he master the accent needed? Who knew Wisconsin could be so back-woods?

Danny just needs the cash to expand his farm. He’s eager to please the spunky gal who’s pushing him right and left till he barely knows which way is up.

When Shelly’s old flame who had betrayed her horribly shows up on set everything is about to combust. Shelly has to abandon her own pride and depend on Danny. Will she lose her job? She’s already on her way to losing her heart. I like Danny. But I’m a dog  from Wisconsin so he’s my home-boy since I come from the western side of the state where this tale is set.

Daily vlogs give insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings and while it’s a whirlwind romance the reader comes to feel strongly for Danny and Shelly with their individual struggles. Maybe a down-home country boy from Wisconsin can be the key to a movie maker’s heart. The ending is sweet and worth the read. I love Lisa’s creativity in creating the story.

Pride, trust, humility and accepting people for who they are sharply contrast against one another in this sweet romance novella. I give it five bones. 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

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Writer Wednesday: Anita Klumpers

SONY DSCAnita Klumpers is the author of Winter Watch, a fast paced romantic suspense set in Northern Wisconsin. She lives in the Madison area and was willing to give me a few minutes to share a glimpse into her writing journey.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to . . .?

I’ve always enjoyed beginning a story. When I was little I’d start long rambling tales. Sort of the print version of The Song That Never Ends. In college I even looked forward to writing term papers! Until the time came to finish them. That was always my problem. Pulling it all together.

My mom wanted me to write children’s books but that was a skill I just don’t possess. I wanted to write a novel just to see if I could develop a plot all the way. This tiny core of common sense said it couldn’t happen because I’d need to actually complete something. So I got stubborn, rebelled against my common sense, and did it.

What’s your pet peeve? 

Inanimate objects. They stub my toes, drop on my head, need to be turned when I want to push, burn out, break, freeze up, topple, and are oblivious to my scoldings.

WinterWatch_Ebook (2)What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

When the barista at the coffee shop said she liked my book but saw a couple of typos. And I had to admit that for the most part, they were my fault.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author? 

Writing. Promoting. Quadruple each of those and you have my most difficult challenges. I love to write but seem to think I require long, uninterrupted, isolated days. But that isn’t the real world. Neither is expecting the book to sell itself. I practically apologize when I ask if someone would like to read it.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Pretty well, actually. I don’t think I have a particularly fragile ego, and know that I have a long way to go as a writer.

SONY DSCWhat do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career? 

I’m at the infant stage of my writing career. So I guess just being born. In other words, I got published!

Anita can be found on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anitaklumpers

Her blog:  http://www.thetuesdayprude.com

Winter Watch (Book Review)

WinterWatch_Ebook (2)It’s been chilly up in the midwest, and Anita Klumper’s new romantic suspense novel, Winter Watch, is what the doctor ordered to get my heart pumping. (well, that and a cozy chair by the fireplace and a cup of something warm!)

Claudia finds herself stranded in northern Wisconsin when she travels there to uncover the true owner of a watch with age old secrets. She meets up with a bevy of characters from the local dog-catcher to the and old, yet sage, blind man and a fun husband and wife team who own the B&B while home schooling their cheeky teenage son. Throw in a slobbering dog, an eccentric restaurant, an old boy friend, winter storms and mysterious happenings that culminate in murder. Claudia needs to decide whether the watch is worth losing the lives of the people she comes to care for.

I really enjoyed this story and the unusual romance that develops between Claudia and Ezra. The bookends to the story add another dimension of depth to the entire tale of this mysterious watch and its elusive fob and just who the real owner is. Who would have thought something so old would create such chaos? Anita’s research and attention to details in this story is riviting and fun. It is a story I highly recommend. I look forward to reading more from this author!

 

A Door County Christmas (Book Review)

I have to admit, I did not read this book at Christmas-time. I read it after. And I loved it! A Door County Christmas is a compilation project that highlights the work of four authors: Eileen Key, Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips and Cynthia Ruchti.  The cool thing is that while these four stories are all stand-alones, they all share a common link to an eccentric innkeeper, Lola Peterson, who has gifted someone in each with a Christmas Cactus that will bloom when love does.

Not all of Lola’s targets for “happily-ever-after” are fully on board or even really care if love, or a cactus, blooms.

Cynthia Ruchti’s tale The Heart’s Harbor involves a young woman, Amanda, seeking a brief respite from her life and failed romance.  Unsuspecting of Lola’s intentions, Amanda, who starts out as a guest,  is quickly left to manage the inn. With the help of Lola’s son, Jordon, together they face a series of challenges as they gear up for the annual and much anticipated Christmas Tea. Will love bloom by then? It’s a spritely adventure and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rachael Phillips story Ride with Me into Christmas takes a look at a widow, Joanna, as she struggles to not only keep the cactus alive, but to deal with her new neighbor (also a widower). Eventually a mutual love of bicycling bring the two together, in spite of opposition. Will they be together come tea time? It’s a sweet story of love between 50-somethings – and utterly delightful.

Eileen Key tells a unique tale in My Heart Be Still with a look at the enduring love of two octogenarians and their own matchmaking efforts even when their home might be sold out from underneath them by the closest kin, a greedy woman who desperately wants the house gone. What will this spunky older couple do to keep their home and perhaps develop a more friendly family?  A sweet and at times, silly, story.

The final novella, by author Becky Melby is Christmas Crazy and involves an interesting mystery man, a rundown theater company, and Jillian, who is somehow supposed to pull everything together for a glorious rebirth. Can she trust dark Latin eyes and do the job? Will love bloom in her heart?

A delightful grouping of stories against the glistening backdrop of Door County, Wisconsin, one of the State’s most coveted get-a-way locations. If you can’t make the trip in reality, then enjoy it here. You’ll be glad you did.

The Map Quilt: Buried Treasure Mysteries Book 2 (Book Review)

I’ll admit I did it. I rarely buy fiction, but when my friend Lisa Lickel came out with her e-book, The Map Quilt, I actually PAID to have it on my kindle. I know. I need help.

I’m more of a comedy and/or romance kind of girl. I’m not big on mystery and there is certainly one in The Map Quilt. Murder. Fire. Enemies. Buried Treasure. Midnight visitors. But there was also a sweet romance between Hart and Judy. Lighthearted bantering that made them seem so real. And cupid also decided that one romance just wasn’t enough! Drama, suspense and mystery as well.

So what’s it about? Hart has developed a new technology for the farming industry but before it can reach production a mysterious fire, death of a hostile co-worker and the missing invention raise all kinds of questions. How does that weave in with a mysterious quilt and a missing deed to a property in another state and this unusual speaker who has come to share information as well as seek answers to an age-old mystery?  A skeleton, gold-coins and the smell of gasoline. Lisa ties all these elements together into a beautiful package.

It was also a wonderfully complex book. Lisa really knew her stuff and had obviously researched things well to weave history of the underground railroad as well as current issues with technology into her book against the backdrop of a small Wisconsin community. A cozy mystery.

I enjoyed this book. I got so sucked into it I couldn’t go to bed until I finished it. It is the second book after The Gold Standard, which I have not read (yet). It stands alone though and it is not necessary to have read the first book to fully enjoy this one.

Lisa, I’m blessed to call you a friend and happy to say I loved your book (she knows me well enough that if I didn’t, I would say so – or just avoid posting a review!).

It’s not out in paperback yet, but will be in time. But the e-book is worth the price. So go get it.

A Summer in Oakville (book review)

I’m ashamed to admit that I was reluctant to read this book. The title didn’t really grab me. Maybe because I live in Wisconsin near Oakfield and didn’t think that a book about Oakville would be all that interesting.  So why did I read it? Well, to be honest – because two authors I admire wrote it: Shellie Neumeier and Lisa Lickel.

This book is an inspirational contemporary story about small town life and a family that hails from there. There is action, romance, a struggle against local politics and the desire to preserve heritage. What is unique about this story is that it is one series of events that is told in novellas based on the perspective of four members of one family.

The first to tell her story is Tessa. A mom of two grown daughters and a grandmother who is rooted to her hometown and willing to dig those roots in deeper even at the expense of her marriage. She is  plagued by a secret from her past that threatens to explode in the midst of her present challenges. Is her marriage doomed? And how will she deal with the man from her past that stirs up pain and longing at the same time?

Tess has a daughter, Lindsay. Her story is second in the book. Lindsay seems to be a little more mature than her mother, and wiser. She is struggling to find value and worth, while hanging out in the country at her Grandparent’s home and waiting for the career opportunity that will make the best use of her gifts and education. Can she ‘fix’ her grandparent’s problem? And what about her conflicting feelings for the young man who stirs her heart but might be her enemy?

The next story told is from the perspective of a hurting and rebellious young man, Andy (Tessa’s nephew/Lindsay’s cousin).  He struggles to understand why God would allow his mother to die and he acts out in ways that risk his own life. Sent to stay with his Grandparent’s in sticks of Oakville is not an ideal summer vacation when a kid has experienced life in Madison, Wisconsin.  Andy learns the hard way the  value of work, family and of forgiveness.  And he might be a bit in love too.

Andy’s father, Art (younger brother to Tessa), has run away from the farm in the country to escape his ghosts. Earning a PhD and having a successful career, he ironically studies gerontology (aging) while at the same time basically ignoring his aging parents. He feels like he is failing as a single father after losing his wife in a tragic accident. He struggles to believe in a God who would allow so much grief in his life. How can he reach his son when he is so wrapped up in his own pain? A lost romance lures him back to Oakville and his story actually has the sweetest ending of them all.

One series of events in a small town forces a family to reconnect. This story leaves some unanswered questions and I find myself wishing that the Grandmother’s story had also been told here. I would have been good to explore her  perspective as she juggles all the emotions  of her two children and grandchildren, the crisis that threatens her home, and her struggle to care for her disabled husband. What is impressive is that her character, as the glue to this family, is consistent through the four novellas. She’s one awesome lady in my opinion.

I recommend this book because it is written so differently from anything else I have picked up. Faith is important to this story. Two authors have written but there is one voice. I know both of these authors personally and could not figure out which one had written which chapter. The characters speak with authenticity. This family is not perfect, but their struggle is genuine. The book is a good reminder too that as we go through life – and face our difficult circumstances, there are people around us, experiencing those same situations through an entirely different lens of experience and emotion, and yet God is weaving all together beautifully.

Congratulations to Shellie Neumeier and Lisa Lickel for crafting a unique book. I will probably be reading it again which I don’t often do with novels. Maybe, as a writer,  I’ll challenge myself to write Grandma’s story just for fun.