Monday, October 16, 2017

The Innocence Treatment ~ Ari B Goelman (earc) review [@agoelman @FierceReads @MacKidsBooks]

The Innocence Treatment
Roaring Brook Press
October 17, 2017
304 pages
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You may believe the government protects you, but only one girl knows how they use you.

Lauren has a disorder that makes her believe everything her friends tell her--and she believes everyone is her friend. Her innocence puts her at constant risk, so when she gets the opportunity to have an operation to correct her condition, she seizes it. But after the surgery, Lauren is changed. Is she a paranoid lunatic with violent tendencies? Or a clear-eyed observer of the world who does what needs to be done?

Told in journal entries and therapy session transcripts, The Innocence Treatment is a collection of Lauren's papers, annotated by her sister long after the events of the novel. A compelling YA debut thriller that is part speculative fiction and part shocking tell-all of genetic engineering and government secrets, Lauren's story is ultimately an electrifying, propulsive, and spine-tingling read.
Sixteen-year-old Lauren Fielding lives in ta United States, in 2031, that is a mix of 1984 and The Program; The Department 'keeps everyone safe' and speaking out against them is far from a good idea. It may even be illegal.

As some struggle to accept the Emergency Act, the Department and all they mean for life, others are thankful for the safety and stability. And Lauren? She believes whatever anyone tells her - about the world, about how they feel, about anything. She takes everyone and everything at face value. If you say you're fine, she truly believes you are fine.

Her disorder makes her miss a lot and can be confusing (even watching movies or reading novels isn't enjoyable for her) So when the chance to 'fix' her presents itself< Lauren's thrilled.

Only, she's not a 'normal' person after the surgery, either.

Things get complicated and consing in all new ways and Lauren wonders what's better the ignroance she had or the paranoia she now has.

The Innocence Treatment is a fantastic near future YA thriller. Lauren and her story are the perfect way to present that world to us.  Not only do we get the 'new' paranoid Lauren but though her new understanding, her reinterpretation of past events we really see what 2031 is like, what the Department is like. Beyond that, we also get some great questions about life and knowledge and generally being human. In her struggle with her new self, Lauren wonders and works through things that many will be able to identify with.

I loved that the entire novel is presented as a nonfiction book published in 2041, from the Editor's Note at the beginning all the way through to the end. With this format we get Lauren's journal entries, but also notes (both from her doctor and in footnotes) that give you enough of what's coming for Lauren to up the anxiety and stress level (and the mystery) but not ruin any of the story.

Goelman's imagining of 2031 made for a great read with great social commentary and questions about what to value in life, what's important ("Why is that Dr Corbin? Why would I rather be unhappy than stupid? . .. What does it matter if other people thought I was stupid, as long as I was happy?" -pg 72).  Though, it's not a 2031 I want to see come to fruition.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Breathless ~ Tara Goedjen (earc) review [@TaraGoedjen @DelacortePress]

The Breathless
Delacorte Press
October 10, 2017
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets better left to the dead.

The Breathless is a YA, paranormal, Southern Gothic but what sets it apart from from other paranormal, YA, Southern Gothics is its setting, the characters and their history. I loved that it was set in Alabama, along the Gulf Coast as most seem set in Louisiana or the Carolinas and the addition of the proximity of the water played an important role in the story.

Parts of the novel are set in the mid-nineteenth century giving us a glimpse into the past of Blue Gate, the once grand but now crumbling home of Mae and her family. It was both different and enjoyable that, despite it being the nineteenth century in the Southern United Sates, this story didn't involve slavery. It also gave us a fresh portrayal of magic and how it came into the characters' lives. (If I really think about it, I'm not sure how that family didn't have some kind of help, paid or otherwise but , oh well.)

We have a mystery in not only Ro's death - what happened, how it happened, who's to blame, why - but in where Cage has been for the past year. The questions around Cage's reappearance, where he's been, why he was gone - and why he doesn't seem to know Ro is dead - add an extra layer of intrigue and uncertainty to the story.

I really liked how Mae had to try to figure out if Cage could be trusted, to find out what happened to her sister, to understand the green book and her family's history all while still grieving. It impacts her decisions, how other characters are behaving or would react and why seems 'right.'

The Breathless had an original setting and origins of both the characters and paranormal elements and the mystery was well done and surprising at times. When the book was finished, though, there were a few things left unexplained (Some that could be inferred, maybe, from things said in story but some I just don't know about.). I wish we'd been given more explanation about these things or, if there were answers, that they'd been more prominent.

I am still puzzling out a few things but this was a fun, original read and I would like to read more from Tara Goedjen.

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October is the Coldest Month ~ Christoffer Carlsson (earc) review [@ccarlssons @ScribeUKbooks @rwillsonbroyles]

October is the Coldest Month
translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Scribe UK
June 08, 2017
192 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/AmazonUK/or Amazon

Vega Gillberg is 16 years old when the police come knocking on the door looking for her older brother, Jakob.

Vega hasn’t heard from him in days, but she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was involved in a terrible crime. What no one knows is that Vega was there, too.

In the rural Swedish community where the Gillbergs live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must survive a series of threatening encounters in a deadly landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s dealing with the longing she feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget, and the mixed-up feelings she has for her brother’s best friend.

During a damp, raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open, and Vega realises that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back.

"The story would refer to Varvet as the 'remote Småland countryside'. It was weird--just because they were far away, we were the remote ones. Even though we were close to the action." *

I really enjoyed October is the Coldest Month: the story, the writing, the characters, the tone. This novel was originally published in Swedish and it felt very different from something set in England or the US - or even set in Sweden but written in English. For lack of a better way to say it (and I have tried to find one) it felt very Scandinavian.

Even as dark or criminal or dangerous or confusing (or a mix of all of the above) were happening, it did not feel as intense or fast paced as other stories I have read. I loved that Vega walked or rode her bike everywhere, that she lived by a giant, old, intimidating forest. I also loved her complicated, confusing relationships with her family members.

"In Varvet, you inherit your house, you way of life, your loyalties.History is your blood whether you want it there or no."*

Both the characters and their lives were very easy to relate to, though. Varvet is a town it is easy to get stuck in; to stay in your whole life. Whether you want to or not. Vega's description of what happens there, of who the people are and why they are there made it sound like a lot of American small towns.  It also feels like the perfect setting for her family: the absence of her father, the way her mother acts, what he uncle does, why he's back in Varvet, where her brother lives, etc. The author gave us the perfect setting and characters who, flaws, good intentions, not-so-good intentions, fit in could really only, all, live there.

As this is a translated work it's hard to know just how much of the writing (phrasing, word choice, etc) is the author and how much is the translator but it was great. Any book that can compare things to soon-to-be-decapitated Barbie heads and to buffalo and have them both work is something pretty special.

Vega and her entries into the adult world, the crime and what trying to figure it out reveals to Vega, Varvet and how living there shapes the characters, the tone and atmosphere of this story which were different and wonderful, and the fantastic writing all makes this a book you should read. I hope more of this author's works are translated into English.

*Quote is from arc and I could not find the section in any of the previews of the finished book online. If you have a finished copy and my quote is incorrect, let me know. (Or if you know a page number.)

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@lynnweingarten @simonteen]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


Bad girls get it done.

Sasha’s all-time favorite person is her best friend Xavier. He’s smart, funny, and strange. He’s not just nice but kind. He’s endlessly forgiving, even when maybe he shouldn’t be.

So when Xavier lets his ex, Ivy, slither her way back into his life, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. And not just because she can’t stop thinking about the night she and Xavier almost shared a rum-soaked kiss. No, it’s because Ivy is poisonous. The last time they were together, Ivy cheated on Xavier and he just barely survived.

Sasha has a plan: pose online as a guy to seduce Ivy, proving that cheaters never change. But she soon learns to be careful who you pretend to be—because you can never truly know the darkness inside of someone. Including yourself.

Told in multiple points of view.

published October 31st by Simon Pulse

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


I have enjoyed Lynn Weingarten's previous books (The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls, Wherever Nina Lies).I am interested in  Bad Girls with Perfect Faces because of the different dynamics/relationships it includes: Sasha and Xavier's friendship, the potential romantic possibilities between Sasha and Xavier (plus ho that would/is affecting the friendship), Xavier and Ivy's past, their present, and what there is between Sasha and Ivy.

Then I want to see what all is involved in Sasha's plan - and how things may veer away from what she has planned.

Especially because it is told from multiple points of view, I want to see how this all works, how the relationships and characters are intertwined and how what happens affects each of them.

I also love the title and the book cover. (While I can obviously be completely wrong, I love the lipstick and how, with the whole flies and honey saying, it works with the title.)

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!
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