A Kiss to Build a Dream On (White Pine #1) by Kim Amos
When Willa Masterson left White Pine, Minnesota 12 years ago that included boyfriend, Burke Olmstead. But now she's back, pride shattered, fortune gone and looking to restore her family home into a B & B. The very one that now contractor Burke Olmstead hoped to make his own. Once again the two are working together but can they keep things strictly business?
This was my first book by Amos and there was a lot I liked. She did a great job with the small town vibe without overdoing it and I really liked the side characters. I love a good second chance romance and I never can resist any story that involves home renovation. However, this one had a number of things that just didn't work for me. The main issue is that both Willa and Burke seemed so stuck on their high school relationship and it very much had a glory days feel to it. This is high on the personal preference scale but it's something I never particularly enjoy. As well, Willa took mean girl to whole new levels and while she does spend some time trying to make up for being a really awful person it mostly seemed like she was doing that because of how things had turned against her versus legitimately feeling bad for how she had behaved. While I liked Burke better I didn't like his plan to essentially to manipulate Willa on home renovations so that it seemed too expensive and too overwhelming and she would sell to him. Overall, I didn't particularly care for the characters in this book which affected my feeling about the book overall. I did enjoy Amos' writing style and the world she created so I would give this series another try but I'd be sure to carefully read the blurb. Rating - Just Okay
At Home by Bill Bryson
This is a fascinating look at the history of the home told in kind of a If You Give a Pig a Pancake fashion. If you're unfamiliar with that series of children's books it essentially involves a child offering an animal a treat and one thing leads to another and after a craft or two, a game, a day trip, some cleaning they're finally ready to sit down to the treat. That's kind of how this book felt. One minute we are talking about the cellar and then suddenly we are in New York building a canal and after a lawsuit or two, a change in the US's economy and one man destined to live out his days in poverty we are back to a cellar in a rectory in English countryside. All of it is fascinating but the sheer volume of information makes it hard to retain as much as I'd like. The book is entertaining reading and I enjoyed the audio, read by Bryson himself, even more which means it won't be a hardship to revisit the book occasionally and I'm sure I'll pick up even more. Until then I'll happily be sharing knowledge on the invention of forks, why upholstered furniture took so long to become available, and just what a scullery is. This is actually the 2nd time I've read this book though this time I went the audio route. I think I have enjoyed the audio version more and picked up more interesting bits and pieces. Rating - Very Good
So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures by Maureen Corrigan - Like most people I know, I read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in high school. I remember enjoying it and finding it surprisingly grim. I reread it in college and went on to read many of Fitzgerald's other works. When I first started listening to audiobooks it was one of the first ones I chose and fell in love with the story all over again though was even more surprised by it's grimness than I was when I was 16. So naturally, a book about the book itself seemed like an immediate must read.. Unfortunately, this wasn't the book for me. While I do enjoy taking a look at the life of an author and how it appeared in their work this felt more like a college lecture on symbolism and deep themes which was never something that hooked me. Corrigan's attention to detail and throughness in combing through Fitzgerald's life and work is impressive but I don't think I really appreciated it. I felt a bit like my eyes kept bouncing of the page and the information just never quite made it into my brain. Basically, I was 19 again sitting in my Freshman Comp classes watching the clock. I was always conscious of Corrigan giving the lecture and didn't come out feeling like I knew Fitzgerald or Gatsby any better. If you enjoy looking for symbolism and greater meanings than this will be a book you'd enjoy. Otherwise, just pick up a biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a copy of The Great Gatsby. Rating: Not for Me