Old Buildings in North Texas ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours promo, Review, & Giveaway!


  Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Dramedy
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: April 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 213

Scroll down for the giveaway! 

After rehab, Olivia, a 32-year-old cocaine addict, is required to move back in with her mother and pregnant sister. Having left a promising career in journalism in New York, she’s now working as a sales assistant for a family friend in her home town in North Texas. 

Under pressure from her court-mandated counselor – an old high school friend - to take up a hobby, Olivia decides on "urbexing." Soon she’s breaking into derelict homes, ex-prisons, and old drive-ins across North Texas, and it’s not long before she’s looting state property and making money off the possessions, fixtures, and fittings that have been left behind.

Old Buildings in North Texas is about a modern woman’s search for personal equilibrium and wild adventure -- the attempt to find stability in existence without losing sight of what makes life worth living. Jen Waldo’s style modulates effortlessly from domestic nuance to taut adventure, tackling social and moral transgressions with incisive observation and vivid humor.

“A lot of Jen Waldo’s debut novel takes place out on the porch of Olivia’s mother’s house. […] With its casual, confidential tone, Old Buildings in North Texas puts the reader in one of those porch chairs, reclining on a warm evening with a cool drink.” -- The Skinny

Old Buildings in North Texas is an amusingly written and well worked book” -- Trip Fiction

“This novel is an absolute blast. There are serious moments of course, but Jen Waldo looks for the comedy in everything to create a memorable scenario that reminded me very much of the style of Six Feet Under.” -- Shiny New Books



HALL WAYS REVIEW:  While the title, Old Buildings in North Texas, is not a misnomer, and old structures are indeed a fascinating aspect of the story, they are just one element that makes Old Buildings in North Texas one of the most creative, unique, and captivating books I have read in some time. Despite her word economy – there is nothing flowery in her writing -- author Jen Waldo somehow manages to give readers layer after layer of characterization and evocative settings that had me flying through the pages.

“Her misplaced expectations make me ache all over.”

Oh, how I love the mess that is our main character Olivia. It’s possible I might even like her. Olivia is smart, pragmatic, and soooo numb yet profoundly aware she’s numb. Initially, her numbness seems like aloofness, which seems like she is uncaring and doesn’t have feelings. But as Old Buildings progresses, there are increasing glimpses of Olivia’s humanity. She cares, she feels, but selectively. Does this help in Olivia’s recovery? Maybe.

“People tend to get fed up with me. I arrive late and leave early.
I break promises. I borrow and never return. I don’t do favors,
but I expect them. I know these things about myself.”

Don’t be fooled into believing Olivia will change her wicked ways and become an upstanding citizen. She’s deeply flawed, fully criminal, and wholly owns all of it with a dry, dark humor that kept me laughing. Readers will be waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop but then realize Olivia’s already had multiple other shoes drop – most recently, a never-paid-for Neiman Marcus shoe. What’s next? Consequences? Redemption? Salvation?

Salvation. Olivia is committed to adhering to the six required steps of the twelve-step recovery program, one of which is recognizing a “Higher Power.” Wordsmith that she is, Olivia locates the loopholes in the directives. Despite Olivia’s feeling that in her experience, “trying to communicate with any aspect of the Trinity is a waste of time,” I find her daily scripture interpretations interesting and even insightful at times as she adapts each verse to her right-now life.  She ponders, maybe has a pang of guilt, then concludes her spiritual sessions with “Okay, I’ll try,” checks-off “Higher Power” time on the to-do list and moves on.

Yeah… no doubt about it: I like Olivia.

Of course, Olivia is only part of the Old Buildings of North Texas picture. Waldo gives readers Olivia’s mother – who is interesting enough to merit her own book, me thinks, and a handful of other quirky characters who make the story pop to life, even in their ordinariness. But the real crowning jewels are Waldo’s richly detailed descriptions of Olivia’s forays into urban exploration. Riding along for these clandestine adventures is exhilarating and feels almost voyeuristic… and wrong… but like Olivia, the reader can’t resist the call of the long-abandoned building and what treasures and dangers might await. A new addiction indeed.

Old Buildings in North Texas may require a slight suspension of disbelief by those who know small town Texas. Olivia’s bank, post-office, and middle of the night expeditions aren’t likely to go unnoticed and not be a source of gossip at the lunch counter. And I realize that the book was originally published in the UK, but this is a Texas author and Texas setting, so for grammar geeks like me, it would have read more authentically if American punctuation and spellings had been consistently used. (And my Texan eyes are still burning from seeing “Y’all” spelled “Ya’ll.”) I’m not sure others will notice or care if they do.

For readers looking for realistic interactions and characters in a story that doesn’t fit neatly in a box, this is your book. If you enjoy dark humor and don’t need inspiration or a happy ending, this is your book. I highly recommend Old Buildings in North Texas as a quick but impactful read that lingers and teases the memory long after the last page is turned.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author, who provided me a lovely print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 

1st Prize:
Signed Copy of OBiNT + $10 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize:Signed Copy + $5 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: eBook Copy of OBiNT
October 2-11, 2018
Guest Post
Author Interview
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BONUS Review
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