Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: What Matters Most

17563299Title: What Matters Most
Author: Bette Lee Crosby
Series: N/A
Publisher: Bent Pine Publishing
Published: April 20, 3013
Format: Print Copy
Pages: 287
Dates Read: July 30-August 3 2017
Source: Received from the author in
exchange for an honest review
Add on Goodreads
 My Rating: 2 Stars


Louise Palmer is a settled-down person. A woman who wants nothing more than to remain in the same house until the day she dies. When her husband, Clay, announces an intention to quit his job and move to Florida, her life is thrown into a turmoil of mixed emotions and strained loyalties. Torn between Clay’s desire for “the good life” and the lifelong friendships of her quilting club, Louise struggles with what to do…until her best friend hatches a scheme to thwart the move.

Before she discovers the truth of what matters most, a marriage will be tested, family relationships will fall apart and the friendships Louise tried to hold onto will change dramatically.

Melissa's Musings

The premise of this one caught me up. And then, sadly, let me down.

At the beginning of the story I felt I could learn to like the characters, but found myself wishing that there were more backstory. As the story progresses, there are a few holes in things that are just too much for me.

Like how Louise and Clay can move to another state without having a real, in depth conversation about it. Clay announces his intentions, Louise tries to hatch a scheme to get out of it. It doesn't work, and she slowly, (so slowly) resigns herself to life in Florida.

I don't like Louise as a character much at all. She's passive agressive, and whines entirely too much. She had this quirk of believing that double initials make a person lucky. Which, if I had liked her, I would have thought was a nice character quality. But, as that got repeated throughout the story, it got old, and annoying, and was eventually proved wrong by the events of the story itself.

I do like some of the more minor characters though. They add fun, liveliness, and even a little drama to the story. And, I did like the comaraderie between the characters. It was pleasant to read how the people of Tall Pines were kind  and welcoming to Louise and Clay.

I hoped this story might redeem itself at the end, but the resolution was too quick and tidy. I would have liked to see more exploration of the back half of this story rather than all the exposition on Louise's adjustment to life in Florida. I also found the cover of this book confusing once I finished the story. The main character is an older woman with grown children and so the young woman on the front cover doesn't really go with the plot.

I've read other books by this author and enjoyed them, so I'll consider trying another book by her in the future.

Have you ever had to make an interstate move like Louise? How did you adjust?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: The Littlest Angel

19110172Title: The Littlest Angel
Author: Heidi Chandler
Series: N/A
Publisher: Self Published
Published: March 27, 2012
Format: Print Copy
Pages: 174
Dates Read: July 29-30 2017
Source: Received from the author in
exchange for an honest review
Add on Goodreads
My Rating: 4 Stars


Four years ago I had the perfect life. I had a great career, a doting husband, and a loving family. Life couldn’t get any better, so my husband and I decided, after four years of carefree marital bliss and a great deal of hesitation, it was finally time to start a family.
My pregnancy happened quickly and mirrored my life - happy, healthy, and full of love, even dubbed “perfect” by one of my doctors. That all changed when my water broke two weeks before my due date, and I was blindsided by the ugly reality that perfect doesn’t exist.
What followed was a tortuous hospital stay, where I learned my daughter’s umbilical cord had wrapped tightly around her neck, causing her to die in my womb. I had a grueling delivery that scarred me emotionally and physically. I tried desperately to move past the shock, understand what went wrong, and say goodbye to my only child.
I spent months blaming myself, relentlessly searching for the why and how, cursing God and trying to comprehend what I had done to deserve such pain. I was a recluse filled with guilt and self-hatred. I carried my daughter’s ashes everywhere I went. I became obsessed with having another baby, certain that the only way life would get better was if I could replace my daughter.
Reluctantly forced to return to work and the real world, I struggled to find normal. Yet over time, through the kindness of strangers and friends, I realized that there is a method to the madness of life, and I began to find peace. I became pregnant again, and, though I longed for a girl, now have two little boys that taught me that life moves on and it’s possible to love again.

Melissa's Musings

First let me preface this review by saying that I have had this book on my shelf waiting to be read for far longer than I care to admit. Also, let me preface this by saying that I have never been pregnant, nor have I experienced the loss of a child.

This might leave some of you wondering, "Well, why would you read a book like this if you can't really relate to it?"

Simple. I've always been interested in people's stories, people's lives. And this is quite the story.

This is a story of intense loss, and grief. But also a story of the pains and joys of picking up life to move forward and onward, but not away from what happened. 

This is told in a raw, real, down to earth way. The author has a writing style that is relatable, and not stiffed or forced. In some of the most intense moments in the book, I found myself laughing out loud, not because something was funny, but just from the fact that the author was so candid in  her responses to such intense situations. 

I liked that the author chose to show the whole gamut of her emotions, from awkwardness to panic, to fear, to grief, and all that run in between, rather than hiding behind the "appropriate responses" that other people expected her to display. Is it "normal" to carry around your daughter's ashes with you as you go about your daily life? No, probably not, but it was an honest and true need of the author. And the fact that she let herself do that probably helped her to heal in a way that she may not have had she not allowed herself to do something like that for fear of it being strange or odd.

Though the author does a good job of including bits and pieces of her husband's experience I think the book would have been that much more powerful if we had heard a bit of his perpective in his own words, perhaps if he had his own chapter. Losses like those of stillbirth are often limited to the woman's experience, and it would have been interesting to see this from both parent's perspectives directly.

This is an intense, quick read that's well worth the time.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Reading Goals: Keeping it Simple

I have gone through major life changes in the past year. As a result, my blog has fallen to the wayside. While I do enjoy blogging, I think I have come to regard it somewhat as a chore. So, rather than obligating myself to blog about every book I read, I'm going to keep things very simple going forward.

This year I plan to focus less on blogging and reviews, and more on simply reading to enjoy books again. I will share reviews here from time to time, but I think this year I may start to add more random, personal posts, about whatever strikes my fancy.

That being said, I do have some reading goals in mind for this year. If I make them, great, if I don't, it's not the end of the world.

I've set both reading and life goals in a list. For now, I'll just share my reading goals, but I may share my other goals at some point later on.

2017 Reading Goals
-To read at least 100 books
- To read 30 minutes a night or more, at least 3 nights per week
- To read 17,000 pages
- Read at least 15 of the unread books on my bookshelf this year.
- Check out at least 15 books (and read them) from the library this year

What are your reading (or life) goals this year?