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review 2017-09-24 20:00
Had a lot of potential, but fell very short of what it could have been
The West Woods (Fountain) - Suzy Vadori The West Woods (Fountain) - Suzy Vadori

I received an Advanced Reader's Copy to read and review from Weapenry Co-Op and Netgalley.

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for? This book has you asking yourself that question as the students find a magic wishing well. It certainly puts a lot of pressure on your wish. You want it to be worth it, you don't want to waste your one wish. Well sorry to disappoint you, but that's exactly what these girls do, they waste their wishes. Absolutely no one make a worthwhile wish, making you angry that they have the opportunity. 

I didn't have extremely high expectations for this book, and honestly it was about as good as I expected it to be. The first two-thirds of this book were pretty good and then it started going downhill, and it just kept going.

The characters were all crafted nicely and made a nice group of girlfriends for a boarding school. Courtney was an alright character in the beginning and then she just became more and more selfish and rude. I found myself wondering why the other girls would even want to hang out with her. She treated her friends like dirt, or rather, more like pawns. People who she could manipulate to her will in order to achieve everything she wanted. I like my main characters to have flaws, but damn, Courtney tips the scales overboard in The West Woods.

As for the writing, for the first part of the book I was thinking that this would be a four, potentially a five star read. The author filled some chapters with the feeling of anxiety and excitement as the girls snuck around. Some of the scenes were written so well that I found myself on the edge of my seat, covering my mouth and hoping that the characters could get away with whatever they were attempting at the moment. The writing is what saved this novel from being a two star read. It captivated me and it is clear that the author has the ability to create a five star read.

As for the plot... there was no climax! I feel as if this has happened far too frequently in some books I have been reading as of lately. I finished the book feeling like "that's it?". There were so many loose ends, absolutely no real resolution and not even a cliffhanger that left you feeling as if these problems could be solved later. 

Oh and the romance? You mean the romance that wasn't? It was basically non existent because Courtney decided to be terrible. Good for Cole though, at least he didn't wind up subjected to her terrible treatment as well. The synopsis made it sound like there would be so much more to this romance. 

Basically I feel as if this was a novel with a good idea and great writing, but lacked adequate structure. A book needs to have a climax and a resolution, this one had neither. Courtney was also an incredibly unlikable main character. I definitely would not count out the author, but I would not suggest reading this book.

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review 2017-09-18 22:09
Review: Facing West (Forever Wilde #1) by Lucy Lennox
Facing West: A Forever Wilde Novel (Volume 1) - Lucy Lennox

No obnoxious old women here. They've been replaced by Doc and Grandpa. I actually liked the guys.

Nice beginning of a series. Guess the Wilde family will consist of mainly gay men also. Just like the Marian family.

It was nice catching up with the Marian family. Getting some more info from Griff and Nico's earlier days was nice.

I'd like to share some pic from the author that inspired her in writing this story. I always appreciate an author doing that.











For more inspiration check this out!! LINK

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review 2017-09-14 19:36
The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking,... The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown - Blaire Briody

Briody's book documents the rise (and fall) of America's latest "gold rush", fracking. The newfound ability to unlock formerly unattainable (financially and technically) oil reserves. She does this through telling the story of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota. The perfect place to explore this new technology, a relatively poor, unpopulated, and somewhat isolated area of the country. A place that really needed the financial gains that would be provided by the business. A place that wouldn't be readily under the eye of environmentalists or conservationists. A place where it seems a little money spread around would appease any government officials who grew concerned about the effects on the environment.
Briody explains the reasons why the newest "gold rush" was welcome. They are eerily similar to former get rich quick schemes in our past. Following the economic problems created by the housing collapse, there were a lot of "blue collar" workers who found themselves out of work, unable to find new jobs, or to afford the homes they were living in. As she points out, "manufacturing lost 6 million jobs between 2000 and 2009, and the construction industry shed another 2 million during the recession...the oil and gas industry, particularly in western North Dakota, emerged as a shining mecca". A large migration of these people began to the North Dakota oil field.
In her book, the author concentrates on the Williston, ND, area. Part of my territory in my career had been spent covering North Dakota. The Williston area, while having wonderful people living there, was not a booming metropolis. It was ill prepared for a large influx of people, most of whom were young men. It did not have housing, shopping, roads, hospitals, sanitation facilities, etc, etc, for an overnight influx of people. Yet, suddenly, there they were. Men were forced to live in camping trailers, tents, or worse. Suddenly confronted with a group of young men with no outlets for "recreation", Williston found itself inundated with strip joints, bars, drug use, and prostitution. Locals found themselves forced out of their housing because of astronomically rising rents. The author discovered that statewide, homicides were at the highest level in 20 years. Rapes were at the highest level in 10 years. Drug related arrests were up 64 percent since 2002. And alcohol was a factor in more than half of the deadly traffic accidents in the state in 2012.
Yet, the social impacts were not the worst of the problems Williston found itself facing. Environmentally, fracking was destroying the area. Oil and chemical spills abounded. Water quality went downhill. And no one was acting to protect the environment. As the author pointed out, "Back in 2005, when fracking for natural gas was growing rapidly, the Bush-Cheney administration passed a bill that exempted fracking operations from the Safe Drinking Water Act". Contracts were structured so that if any accidents happened on site, the big oil companies were insulated so that small companies were stuck with any fines or legal proceedings. State agencies, responsible for enforcing rules regarding spills and other violations, dropped the ball. In a three year period, the state issued fewer than 50 fines for all drilling violations, including thousands of spills. And the Federal Government was hamstrung. The EPA could only investigate spills on federal lands, it had to refer incidents on private property to the (nonexistant) state regulators.
As with all get-rich-quick schemes, eventually the boom crashed. Oil prices plummeted. By 2016, the price per barrel of oil was under $35, down from the peak of $145 eight years earlier. Some 10,000 jobs were cut over 2015 in North Dakota. For the most part, thousands of blue-collar workers were back where they started, struggling to survive.
The author pointed out an interesting side-note. "The worry and uncertainty oil workers felt during this time coincided with the rise of Donald Trump's popularity during the 2016 election. Trump campaigned heavily in oil patch regions and tapped into people's anger. He blamed the struggling oil industry on President Obama's regulatory policies and promised to use his business prowess to unleash a U.S. energy revolution". (Yeah, how's that working out for you?)
Please don't get the impression that this is a book filled with facts and figures. The author illustrates the issues by concentrating heavily on characters she meets in the oil fields. Middle-class people working in the area. She explores the effects of working the industry has on these people, their families, and their friends. She covers a 50-ish woman working the area, an alcoholic drifter, a young family man and his family, and a priest, amongst others.
If I had one issue with the book, it is that I wish Briody would have covered a larger segment of people in the area. Perhaps some people actually involved in the oil industry (above the common working people). Maybe some more of the people who were from the area prior to the boom, and their feelings and experiences. Some of the state representatives, and explored their opinions. I think the book would have been much better if the author had explored a wider range of characters.

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review 2017-09-13 11:55
On The Fence by Kasie West
On the Fence - Kasie West

Click the link to read my thoughts: On The Fence

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text 2017-09-13 03:41
Thoughts on the Eve of the 2017 Man Booker Shortlist
Home Fire: A Novel - Kamila Shamsie
Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry
Autumn: A Novel - Ali Smith
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
Solar Bones - Mike McCormack
History of Wolves - Emily Fridlund

The Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement is hours away and I've been working hard to read my way through the list. Despite my best intentions, I was only able to completely read seven of this year's nominees as well as three others in part. That leaves three novels that are at this point a complete mystery to me, so I cannot speak on them. Here are some thoughts on who might make the list tomorrow.

I think Home Fire, Exit West, and Days Without End are the three strongest contenders from the ten I've read. I will be surprised if these three do not make the shortlist. I'll be really surprised if none of the three do.

Personally, I didn't enjoy The Underground Railroad much, but I think it also stands a good chance of being shortlisted. I'll be annoyed if wins the Prize given how much attention it has garnered this year, but a shortlist nomination would be accepted.

Rounding out the list is difficult. Autumn and Solar Bones are possible contenders.

I'd love to see History of Wolves on the list as it has been a personal favorite, so far. I know many readers had a very different reaction to this novel, however, so it's a long shot to make the list. (And it has zero chance of winning the Prize.)

If I had to put money on six and only six titles, they'd be
1. Home Fire
2. Days Without End
3. Exit West
4. The Underground Railroad
5. Autumn

6. History of Wolves (anything's possible, right?)

Have you been reading the Man Booker nominees? Have any thoughts on who might be shortlisted?

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