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

ACuriousTaleoftheInBetweenA Curious Tale of the In-Between
By: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read a good amount of DeStefano’s books and A Curious Tale of the In-Between was my favorite of them all…and I’m not even a fan of middle grade fiction for the most part. This book was beautifully executed and unique.

The pacing was even and the story captivating. The characters were so likeable and I absolutely adored each of them (ghosts and human alike). I loved DeStefano’s take on ghosts and the afterlife. I thought she made such beautiful points and my favorite line of the book was,

“Death isn’t a punishment,” Pram said, repeating what Finely had told her. “It’s just what comes next.”

I recently lost my grandfather and this line was a balm to my soul. It hurts to lose those we love and the pain is a physical and emotional ache that does ease as time passes but it is always there. This line meant so much to me and really eased some of my own personal pain.

We follow Pram’s story and early on you know she’s not a typical little girl. She can see and befriend ghosts. To her, they are as much apart of her life as the elderly that she lives with in her Aunt’s home for older folks. I loved the elderly Pram was surrounded by and found them to be such a great addition to the story. Pram’s oldest friend was, Felix, a ghost. I thought the dynamic of their friendship was so sweet and beautiful. Really, you’ll be seeing the word, “beautiful, a lot because it just fits this book so well.

Pram had one living friend she meets at her first experience in school (she’d been homeschooled) named Clarence who was just as wonderful as the rest of the cast of characters. Really, each character had something unique and wonderful about them. Even the villain of the story pulled on my heart strings a teeny tiny bit (at the least she was intriguing).

Pram has lived with her aunts her whole life because her mother passed the day Pram was born. Her aunts have kept what happened exactly a secret and Pram had many questions and some guilt about what occurred with her mother. This book focused some on Pram’s discovery of her mother’s past as well as learning about the reasons why she can see and talk with ghosts.

Final Thoughts:
Even if you aren’t typically a fan of middle grade fiction you really should read A Curious Tale of the In-Between regardless. I believe this is DeStefano’s strongest work to date because of it’s ability to touch the heart and introduce characters you’ll not soon forget.

Extras:

  • I interviewed Lauren about the Internment Chronicles and A Curious Tale of the In-Between here

Interview with Lauren DeStefano + Giveaway (INT)

New York Times best seller Lauren DeStefano excels in transporting her readers into creative worlds. Her novels are beautifully written with lyrical prose and characters that are questing for knowledge and self-discovery. Along with her two young adult series she has now embarked on a middle grade book that looks amazing.  I’m honored to have Lauren here to talk about her newest release, Burning Kingdoms and a bit about her other books.

PerfectRuin BurningKingdoms

Interview

About the Internment Chronicles:
In the Internment Chronicles series a group of people live on an island far up in the sky. What inspired this idea of a city in the clouds?
One of the main sources of inspiration was a game I used to play in my head when I was a kid. Whenever I had to go somewhere that frightened me, or do something I didn’t like, I used to imagine that my house was its own island and that nobody could enter or leave. Over time, all the “what ifs” of that scenario manifested into pieces of a story.

While reading I kept thinking of how claustrophobic it would be to know you’d never be able to approach the edge or leave. How were you able to harness this feeling so well and express it in your writing?
I think most people can relate to that feeling of restriction in one way or another. We all have reasons—emotional, physical or otherwise—that we feel held back on occasion. For me, I struggle with anxiety, and sometimes my own unreasonable worries restrict me from choices I’d like to make. The human mind is its own floating island.

Burning Kingdoms has your heroine, Morgan, experiencing life below on the ground and seeing incredible things that Internment didn’t have. You did a wonderful job conveying the wonder and fear your characters felt. Was this difficult to accomplish?
Yes and no. Many of the things that Morgan saw were mundane to me, like the idea of a round planet and the vastness of the ocean, but at the same time I’ve been awestruck by things, so I tried to find a balance and see though her eyes.

Speakeasies, two kingdoms at war—your world below has many intriguing elements that evoke the past though you throw in some unique aspects to make it obviously not our world. Could you talk about some of the inspirations for this world?
While a particular time period is never specified, I’m fascinated with the 1920s and that inspired a lot of the scenes. I wanted Morgan to arrive in this new world at a time when liberations and freedoms were being tested, especially for young women.

What was your favorite thing to have your characters experience on the ground?
The elegors.

In this series, one of my favorite aspects are the sibling relationships you’ve developed-Morgan and Lex plus in the Burning Kingdoms the Piper children. Are siblings interactions some of your favorite to write?
Definitely. Family dynamics have always interested me, maybe because my own family always felt very standard, and when I was growing up I wanted to know more about how families—especially large ones—interacted.

Could you give us any hints about the next and final book in the series?
People die.

About A Curious Tale of the In-Between and writing in general
You have just written your first middle grade book, A Curious Tale of the In-Between. When you began did you set out writing for a younger age group or did it develop in that direction?
I had no idea what this story was going to be, at all. It was a rare, wonderful experience to write without worry (I’d like to try that again sometime). I hadn’t seriously considered publishing it at first, but when I told the story to my little cousin, who was in second grade at the time, her excitement and interest really motivated me to write for younger readers.

Out of all the series you’ve worked on do you have a favorite or one that comes easier to write than the others?
A Curious Tale of the In-Between.

Have any of your characters taken on a life of their own and go off the original path you had set for them?
Only all of them.

Thank you so much Lauren!

About Burning Kingdoms

BurningKingdomsSummary:
Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

Releases today, March 10, 2015

Giveaway

This is an international giveaway. The winner may choose either Perfect Ruin or Burning Kingdoms
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review of Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect RuinPerfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1)
By: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary (via Goodreads):
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.

The Story:
I haven’t read DeStefano’s Wither series so I can’t compare the pacing or story elements. Perfect Ruin had a slow (but not boring) pace that was easy to read. DeStefano took time to build her world and her main character, Morgan. I felt that Internment was beautifully described and I could visualize the buildings, people and feel of life on the floating island and the claustrophobia of spending your entire life in such a small space. I really enjoyed the writing and how the story flowed slowly though there was the underlining feel of intensity.

I was originally drawn to this book because of the cover but after reading about the city/island floating in the clouds I was hooked. I was intrigued with all the questions–why an island in the sky? How were the people chosen to live there? What is below? Why is looking over the edge forbidden? I will say that we aren’t given absolute clarification in Perfect Ruin. DeStefano edges around these answers only giving the reader the information that Morgan knows.

I feel like as the series progresses more of the questions will be addressed but some readers might be disappointed not to know these answers with the first installment. By the end of the book I had a greater understanding of Internment and its people though I left the book still wondering about many things. For me, this was enough. I didn’t feel disappointment at not getting clear cut answers.

The Characters:
I really enjoyed Morgan, her best friend, her brother and sister in law. I felt that all were well fleshed out and had much deeper stories that I hope to see in later books. As a main character, Morgan is typical of a young adult heroine. She is clever, loyal and curious to a fault. I did wonder why she was only seeking answers with the latest mystery and not after her brother’s experience with the edge.

I had the most difficult time really connecting with Basil. I couldn’t find much depth in his character (yet) and never felt real chemistry between him and Morgan. I liked his actions and what he stood for but I never felt anything deeper about him. He felt rather flat to me overall.

On Internment people are betrothed at a young age and are aware of their future mate. I don’t know if it was because Morgan and Basil were already accepting their futures together but I wasn’t really feeling their romance. Pen, Morgan’s best friend, was far more fun and I loved her dialog and her relationship with her betrothed. Honestly, I felt that all the secondary characters had more passionate relationships than Morgan and Basil.

Judas’ story brings about many of the mysteries and questions for Morgan. His character never felt flat to me and I was easily swept away in his life. I did fear that he would become a love interest creating the dreaded love triangle but so far it didn’t go in that direction.

Final Thoughts:
Perfect Ruin was an entertaining and easy read though many questions remained after finishing the book. I feel that the setup for the sequel will lead to a series that improves with each book.

Teaser Tuesday #16

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Perfect RuinThis week I’m reading Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano. I’m almost half-way and so far it’s an elegant story and I’m loving the writing style and descriptions.

The first kiss lingers. It travels away from the lips once it’s over, and it breaks apart and settles in strange places. The stomach. Fingertips. Knees. It follows us along the cobbles and onto the train. page 143 of print arc

Summary (via Goodreads):
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.

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano will be available October 1st 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Waiting on Wednesday #11

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are highly anticipating. This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait to-read” selection is: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano.

Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles, #1)Summary (via Goodreads):
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.

Why am I eagerly waiting on Perfect Ruin?
First the obvious…look at that cover! Just beautiful and the title is perfectly intriguing. I need to know why “getting close to the edge can lead to madness.” What lays beyond the edge? What happened to her brother since he was a Jumper? I have so many questions, I am crazy excited to read this hopefully sooner than later.

Look for Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano October 1st 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers