From The Start

It just occurred to me that I haven’t done a review post for any of Melissa Tagg’s books. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Because I love Melissa’s books.  In my mind, Maple Valley is a real place, folks. I want to go visit. You know how weird I am? I was sitting in a meeting the other day about flood control and there was a super cool product and my first thought was not about how I could use it on projects, but “Maple Valley could use this!” The struggle is real, people.

Next problem: which one to review first? I stared at my shelf for awhile…eeny, meeny, miny, moe…and decided to start with…From The Start. This was the first full length novel I read by Melissa. I initially fell in love with her stories and Maple Valley through the beginning novella Three Little Words (the [almost] kisses, guys!) and quickly wished I was part of the Walker clan just to have a chance to ask Case for wisdom and eat awesome breakfasts.

While this is the first in the series, I encourage you to read through the rest of them as well; Melissa develops as an author and wades into deeper topics while maintaining the quirky and fun backdrop of Maple Valley and the bonds that are deeper than blood.

About The Book

from the startKate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. 

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?

My Review

I basically already gushed, but time to get more specific about From The Start. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about Kate (other than she has a great name). I liked the twist on the premise of “those who can’t do, teach” with a romance writer who couldn’t find her own happily ever after. Confession: sometimes I wish I could live in the gushy-sappy-unrealistic Hallmark-happily-ever-after movie world. It was good to see Kate’s perspective and have a reminder about learning to be content whether or not my life is currently marketable in DVD form.

Kate has her struggles and Colt’s not perfect, they have baggage. But, isn’t that what real relationships are all about? How do you learn to love someone through their baggage? That’s a common theme in Melissa’s books, which is one I really appreciate, especially since she strikes a balance between dealing with the really hard stuff but at the same time does not drag the reader into a mud pit.

Without giving away an ending, Colt’s story is one that’s close to my heart: foster care kids. There are a lot of hurt, angry kids out there who need someone to believe in them, and those of us who are able can do that for them until they can believe in themselves, that they are worth it, that no matter what they do they have a Heavenly Father who will not walk away from them.

And don’t we all need that reminder as well?

 

First Line Fridays – One Enchanted Noël

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays, hosted by Hoarding Books. This is book #3 in Melissa Tagg’s novella Christmas series. While you can read this one independently, I encourage you to pick up the first two as well. Now all three are also available in one set.

36499257

One Enchanted Noël by Melissa Tagg

“Usually on nights like this – with snowfall glimmering under the hazy glow of lamplight, a peaceful hush hovering over the town square – Leigh Renwyecke could almost forget.”

So, grab the book nearest you and comment what your first line is (with title and author, of course!) and then head over to Hoarding Books to see all of the other books/blogs featured today.

 

Top 10 Summer Books

It’s technically fall, though the weather here disputes that fact. So, that means it’s time for the summer round up! This is for books read July-August-September. (There were so many in June, I just couldn’t include it, and I’m resisting a great book I just finished today, because it’s already October!) I surprised myself when I started narrowing down the options and saw how many contempories there are; I normally consume mostly historical fiction, but it appears to have been a summer of contemporaies!

Enjoy!

All This Timealways watchingAn Inconvienent BeautyBlind SpotJust Look Upaoy cover final(1)A Name UnknownMatter of TrustPeace in ValleyThen There Was you

CFRR Recap – Giveaway

CFRR 19

Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat. Those words peaked my interest last year as I started seeing some favorite bloggers begin to talk about the inaugural event. It sounded a bit like heaven hanging out with bookish friends and meeting authors. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t swing it last year. So, when they announced that this year’s event was going to be hosted in Cincinnati, my (now former) hometown, I jumped at the chance. Timing ended up working out perfectly so I could stay with my mom and then hang around a couple extra days to hang with my best friend an her new baby. Here’s a recap of the fun, and at the end, a giveaway!

The first thing that I was super excited to meet Carrie from Reading Is My Super Power. Carrie has answered so many blogger questions as I’ve gotten started and been super sweet about it all. I also got to meet Annie, organizer extraordinaire, from Just Commonly.

Carrie and I pre-CFRR and post CFRR.

The day was filled speakers and great panel discussions such as spirituality themes and how to/should they/to what extent be woven into Christian Fiction. We heard some great opinions from authors about “organic” faith where their authors live it, but don’t necessarily preach at others and how these themes impact readers. Cynthia Ruchti open with a great talk about why chose Christian Fiction. I wish I had recorded it so I could listen again.

I got to meet sooooo many awesome authors. Here are some I was able to snap photos with! Carrie and Annie kept a secret from us all. Friday night, after after a long day of packing bags, Carrie said she wanted me to meet someone. Lo, and behold, I walk around the corner and there’s JEN TURANO. And when I started to introduce myself, she knew who I was. FANGIRL MOMENT.  I tried valiantly to real it in and act normal, but not sure how successful I was. On Saturday, I was privileged to eat lunch with her, Shelly Shepard Gray, and a new to me author, Mollie Campbell. It was awesome to be able get to know these authors more along with a few other attendees.

CFRR 1

After end of the retreat Saturday, Kristi Ann Hunter grabbed some of her lead team and some others and we all went to LaRosa’s and then UDF for ice cream. I learned that Kristi was staying at a friend’s that was only about 15 minutes from where I grew up and she had lived in the area for awhile! It’s a small world. I also got to meet some other great bloggers and readers and author Deb Marvin!

There were also many giveaways and games. It was a seriously awesome day. I hope I can see you there next year!

One of the books in our swag bag is Ronnie Kendig’s newest A Crown of Souls. Even the title is intriguing. And….you could win a copy!  I will announce the winner next week on Tuesday. As always, please read my terms and conditions for giveaways and it’s open to US residents only. Click on the link here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

 

 

 I tried to get a nice photo of the book, but Onxy was not cooperating.