Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefanoA Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Series: Pram #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 1, 2015
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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Pram Bellamy is special--she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

New York Times bestselling author Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.

I don’t normally read middle grade novels, but I’m a huge fan of Lauren DeStefano’s YA books, so I knew I had to give A Curious Tale of the In-Between a chance! To my (slight) surprise, I really enjoyed it! I loved Pram, the world and the plot.

Pram was an awesome character. She’s described (through the eyes of her aunts) as being eccentric and imaginative. She knows she’s strange, but she doesn’t really let it bother her. She worries what others will think of her, but she doesn’t change herself to make them happy. She’d rather be invisible than be noticed, which I can completely relate to! She’s also very loyal to her friends and a very strong, brave person. She endures a LOT at the end of this book – both mentally and emotionally and even physically (a little bit) – and I’m very excited to see what happens next for her! Also, I know this is weird, since she’s so young, but I couldn’t help but picture her as Jennifer Love Hewitt in her Ghost Whisperer role – Like, this whole book just reminded me of a Middle Grade version of Ghost Whisperer!

Felix was an intriguing character. It’s a bit odd, because he’s young and he has the mentality of someone who’s young, but he’s also been a ghost for a long time, so he has a bit of maturity and wisdom that seems beyond his years. He has moments where he acts mature and wise, where he had enough sense to know when something was wrong and when he couldn’t handle something alone. But other times, he very much acted like the age he was when he died – like when he felt Clarence was taking Pram from him and she had to choose between her dead friend and living one. Someone older would know that you can have many friends and that you can have different interests and hobbies with each friend. But, despite his many years as a ghost, Felix couldn’t completely comprehend this. I felt bad for him because, at times, he seemed so sad.

Speaking of Clarence, I really liked him. Though his actions were a bit selfish sometimes and though his one-track mind got Pram into a lot of the trouble she found herself in, he was really good for Pram. Someday, if and when Felix DOES decide to move on, Pram will need a friend and Clarence is a good friend. He understands a lot of what Pram is going through and he’s very fierce and loyal to her. His actions at the end of the book – coupled with Felix’s help – really saved the day.

I loved Aunt Dee and Aunt Nan. They were pretty content to let Pram be herself, even when she was being eccentric, speaking to people who weren’t there and telling them about “imaginary” friends. For the most part, they did everything they could to keep her safe. I think they should have been more honest with her at times, but I understand that they felt they were protecting her by not telling her certain things. Also, this might be as odd as my Ghost Whisperer comment, but they completely reminded me of Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch – sans magic and slightly less quirky, though!

Lady Savant.. Ugh, it’s really hard to talk about her because I absolutely hated her for the majority of the book, but then something happened near the middle/end and I felt really bad for her. So even though I want to hate her for what she did… I really can’t now. There’s no excuse for the things she did, but the things that happened to her weren’t fair, either. I don’t want to justify her actions, but it’s hard not to want to defend her a little bit.

I loved the world and rules in this book, as well, though DeStefano is amazing at world-building, so that doesn’t surprise me. I loved the different approach she took to the ghostly world and the whole story with memories and objects – I know that’s vague, but I don’t want to spoil it for you guys! You’ll just have to read it to find out what I’m talking about!

My only complaint was that the writing felt a little bit awkward and stilted, which surprised me because I never had that problem with DeStefano’s YA books. But then I started to wonder if maybe it was just me and getting used to reading a book with a younger protagonist and, therefore, a different voice. Of course the book’s tone would be different. Once I got into that mentality, the writing didn’t bother me as much and I actually forgot it had bothered me at all by the time I got roughly half-way through the book!

The ending was pretty intense and I didn’t expect a lot of what happened, to happen! I also thought this was a stand-alone and apparently there’s going to be a second book! So that makes me really excited, especially given how it ended.

I highly recommend this for fans of Lauren DeStefano – and, of course, fans of MG novels and ghosts/paranormal plots. DeStefano is an amazing writer and she creates amazing worlds, characters that you care about and plots that keep you reading until the very last page.


Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefanoPerfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 1, 2013
Pages: 356
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

With Perfect Ruin, Lauren DeStefano has written an amazing, imaginative world filled with incredible, lovable characters. She’s descriptive and elaborate, and the reader will feel as though they are on Internment, living out the events of the story right alongside the characters.

Morgan, the MC, is a daydreamer. She has a unique voice and through her eyes, we see what it’s like to live in a world in the sky. Morgan is the perfect balance of curious and obedient. She’s curious about the ground, yet smart enough to know she shouldn’t think about it. Because of her brother, Lex, she knows all too well what thinking of the ground will do to a person. I found her character fascinating, and I loved seeing the story through her eyes.

Pen, Morgan’s best friend, is an incredible character. She has all these beliefs and all this faith. She’s the obedient one, with her feet planted firmly on Internment. And yet she seemed like a wild card to me, throughout the majority of the book. I had this feeling she would end up getting into a lot of trouble. My suspicious were pretty accurate!

Lex is a particularly interesting character. I don’t really know how to describe him without spoilers, but he’s a very insightful character, offering clarity at times when clarity is needed. And yet, he’s troubled and he knows more than he is letting on. We learn more about that as the story progresses.

And then there’s Basil. I absolutely adored Basil. He was sweet and romantic, open-minded and loyal. He’s the perfect Book Boyfriend and I loved the chemistry and attraction between him and Morgan. He has some incredibly sweet moments throughout the book and I adored him for it.

There are so many fascinating characters in this story, I could go on forever just discussing what I loved about them. But then I would also spoil the entire book for everyone. So just know that the characters in this book were fascinating and interesting. There were certainly some characters that were unlikeable. Every book has some unlikeable characters; without them, there is no conflict or resolution. And, in true DeStefano fashion, the characters never have an easy time of it. If you’ve read The Chemical Garden trilogy – all three books, I mean – you’ll probably read that, groan, and grab some tissues before sitting down with Perfect Ruin!

And then there was that ending… Uhm, whoa! First of all, I totally guessed one thing and sort of guessed another, yet they were still shocking to read and I was thrilled! But that cliffhanger!!! The suspense!!! I seriously can’t wait a whole year to see what happens next!

All in all, Perfect Ruin was an incredible read. I loved every second of it, I would definitely recommend it and I can’t wait to see what happens next! DeStefano is a truly incredible story-teller and I can’t wait to read more books by her!