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

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefanoAuthor:  Lauren DeStefano
Genre: MG, fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
240 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Bloomsbury USA Childrens for letting me read this!

A Curious Tale of the In-Between is Lauren DeStefano’s first middle grade book, and I certainly hope it won’t be the last. This book is absolutely wonderful, enchanting, and full of life – despite the fact that Pram can see ghosts. I was drawn into Pram’s world from page one and read this one quickly over the course of two days (only because I had to work). It reads quickly and will keep you completely captivated the whole time.

Pram (short for Pragmatic – what a great name) is special – she can see ghosts. She was born dead and brought back to life so she hovers somewhere in that in-between place, which gives Pram her ability. She is anything but ordinary, which you can see as you read the book. She’s smart and curious but practical (hence the name). I want to follow her on more journeys – give me more Pram! Pram’s friends, Felix – a ghost – and Clarence – not a ghost, are just as wonderful. I wanted to reach into the book and hug Felix with everything I had. All of the friendships in this one were sweet and supportive.

Honestly, the best part of The Curious Tale of the In-Between is the fact that it’s…well, it’s dark. It’s not your average MG book. It has some really tough topics brought up (suicide, depression, death) and Pram and her friends are put into some harsh situations. But DeStefano realizes that kids can deal with these things and she doesn’t try to lighten it up or beat around the bush. It was refreshing to read, and I know a lot of kids reading this book will appreciate (and even need) that. The real world can be scary and sad, and DeStefano doesn’t shy away from those harsh realities.

The bottom line: Lauren DeStefano’s first MG book, A Curious Tale of the In-Between, is a dark, lyrical, enchanting novel full of ghosts, mediums, life, death, and pragmatic girls. A wonderful coming-of-age story. Bring on book 2!

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

ARC Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

I read this book is two days. It’s ridiculously fast-paced, well-written, thrilling, and pretty swoony.

The Devil You Know by Trish DollerAuthor:  Trish Doller
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, thriller
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
256 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Bloomsbury USA Childrens for letting me read this!

Cadie is tired. Tired of her life, and tired of taking care of her depressed father and acting as mother to her four-year-old brother. She has dreams of adventure and travel, but she is constantly forced to put those aside to take care of her family. So when the opportunity presents itself to join two ridiculously attractive cousins on a road-trip down to the tip of Florida, she says yes. It’s impulsive and spontaneous and yeah, pretty stupid, but it never felt like something a teenage girl wouldn’t do.

I loved Cadie. She was strong, brave, smart, and independent. She took charge of her life and her body and it was AWESOME reading about a woman like that. Cadie takes ownership of herself and it was both refreshing and empowering. Those are the types of things teenage girls need to be reading about. Not once did Cadie’s independence feel cheap or out of character. Doller flawlessly weaves all of these things into Cadie’s character. And even when Cadie was making seriously STUPID decisions, I still liked her character.

The romance was…tangible. Both of the cousins are swoon-worthy, but the romance between Cadie and the main love interest was very convincing. Their chemistry was easy to see and their conversations and scenes together were really well-done. Really, really great chemistry here. The Devil You Know is a thriller though, which means there’s several twists and the creep factor is turned up to eleven. I won’t say I was all that shocked by the ending, mostly because it uses a few main thriller tropes, but it was still clever and smart.

The bottom line: The Devil You Know is a fast-paced, exciting thriller with tons of suuuuuperrrr great chemistry between Cadie and her main love interest. A tad predictable but so well-done and entertaining that I didn’t really mind. It’s got a girl and sex-positive message that I wish I could broadcast to girls everywhere. I definitely plan on reading more Trish Doller.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic