Book Review–Into the Darkness by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)

brvws14

 

This is the 21st book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Into the Darkness by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)
Published February 28th, 2012 by Gallery Books

 

Despite the brilliant sunshine, I felt a chill surge through me. I paused and looked at the house next door. Was Brayden just another one of my fantasies?

Bestselling author V.C. Andrews portrays her most romantic couple since Troy and Heaven in the Casteel series…in this twisting tale of desire and obsession, reality and dreams.

As lovely as one of the precious gems at her parents’ jewelry store, Amber Taylor is shy and introspective—qualities misread by others as being stuck-up and superior. Facing a long, lonely summer working at the family shop, Amber’s world lights up when the Matthews family suddenly moves into the house next door, a property that has stood neglected for the longest time.

And when she meets Brayden Matthews, an only child just like her, Amber soon becomes infatuated with this handsome, quirky young man who seems to know her innermost feelings almost before she does, who takes her places she never knew existed in her small town. Their connection is electrifying, unlike anything Amber’s felt before. But as quickly as he appears, Brayden vanishes into the darkness. And finding out the truth about him will push Amber Taylor to the edge of madness….

An atmospheric journey of passion and suspense that builds to a jolting, unforgettable finale, Into the Darkness showcases V.C. Andrews at her best.

 

 

 

————-

I’m a big fan of VCA novels. Well, at least I was until the most recent Neiderman books. I’m still trying to give new books a fair chance. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Plot:

The plot doesn’t make a ton of sense. It had great potential, but just fell really short. I felt like the author wasn’t sure where to go so he would quickly abandon one idea and switch to something else. That’s how it felt, anyway.

Setting:

This is one of the few things that I actually liked. The setting was neat. Little community with a close-knit neighborhood yet still had nature surrounding it? Sign me up. I’d love to be able to walk to town within minutes as well!

Characters:

None of the characters, except perhaps Amber’s parents, were well fleshed out.

I wanted to like Amber so bad but she just kept rubbing me the wrong way. She was all right in the beginning–minus the describing everything in jewel-tones/jewelry terms–but it didn’t take long for her to start wearing on my nerves. Mostly her obsessing over the same old things and acting in unexpected ways without an explanation is what did it for me.

Brayden wasn’t any more likable. His presence and behavior was confusing, even once the ending sinks in.

Surprisingly Shayne (who the hell uses that spelling, anyway?) was likable for a little bit but then for whatever reason he starts acting really weird as well.

Conclusion: I don’t like any of these people and don’t care what happens to them.

Relationships:

This book was touted as being the best love story since Heaven and Troy. Ha. What? Did we read the same book? While there was one scene in which Amber and Brayden had great chemistry, for the most part it fell flat. It certainly wasn’t even a quarter of the romance portrayed by Heaven and Troy in Dark Angel. Their relationship didn’t make me feel anything.

I liked Shayne and Amber’s relationship somewhat better until things fell apart. Though the third person thing did get on my nerves after a while.

In a way I liked the relationship Amber had with her parents, but in another sometimes they acted really strange with her as well.

Writing/Voice:

It seems that each time I pick up a new VCA novel, the writing gets worse. I couldn’t even feel sorry for Amber at all–that’s how little I cared for her POV. I’m glad the jewelry term descriptions stopped after the first chapter, though. It would have been very annoying if that had continued. So I guess that’s a plus.

Ending:

I already knew this was a ghost story, so the twist wasn’t really much of one for me. Even though I didn’t really much care for this book at all, the ending seemed very “Meh.”

Overall:

Had potential and a great setting, but I couldn’t care for any of the characters, relationships, or writing. I found the book to be boring for the most part.

 

1star

 

 

 

 

jncname
Advertisements

Book Review–When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

brvws14

 

This is the 17th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

12022765When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Published May 1st, 2012 by Simon Pulse

 

An intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told—narrated by the girl Romeo was supposed to love.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.

 

 

————-

**The following review may contain some spoilers***

Plot:

The plot is basically a modern re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, only from Rosaline’s POV. If you don’t remember, she was the woman Romeo claimed to love before he met Juliet. The plot itself is realistic, and made me feel like I was back in high school even though my experience with it was much different than Rosie’s. Still. For the most part, I enjoyed the plot, though it seemed to drag near the end.

Setting:

The setting is in mostly sunny California, and was super easy to picture. I liked that the characters had regular spots they liked to hang out, which brought even more realism to the story.

Characters:

Rosaline was a very easy character to like and sympathize with. I felt terrible for her throughout most of the book. I felt happy and excited when she did. I wanted to see her happy, even though I knew tragedy was looming up ahead.

I liked her girl friends, Charlie and Olivia. Especially Charlie, who’s tough and kind of demanding, but definitely has a big heart. Olivia had some great comic relief but seemed genuinely sweet.

I liked Rob well enough until he put Rosaline’s heart through the ringer. He could have made his new relationship so much easier on the girl he supposedly used to love, but he didn’t. It was hard to feel sorry for him later on, at least until the “secret” gets spilled.

As for Len, I adored him pretty much from the moment we met him. He had much more personality than Rob and I was hoping him and Rosaline would get closer.

I liked Rosaline’s parents, who seemed real and down-to-earth. It would have been nice to see more scenes with them.

Juliet was awful. Even when I learned about the “secret” and her reasons for hating Rosaline, I still didn’t like her. There was no excuse for some of the things she did to Rosaline. The barbie scene especially comes to mind.

Overall, all of the characters felt realistic and were fun reading about.

Relationships:

Rosaline and Rob were kinda cute, but never felt “destined” to be for me. Still, I felt awful for the girl when it didn’t work out. Her emotions were realistic. Especially once the tragedy occurred. I would have probably blamed myself as well.

I liked Rosaline and Len’s relationship better. They were adorable and every scene between them was full of chemistry. Much more interesting than “Romeo” any day.

Rosaline’s relationship with her friends was fun and felt real, especially when one of them was going through something difficult. Charlie breaking down in the car was the one that gripped me the most, as well as when Charlie later returns the favor for Rosaline after the tragedy.

I also liked Rosaline’s relationship with her parents. It’s always nice to see YA where the kids and the parents actually get along and are realistic about it. My only gripe is that I wish they had been a little more prevalent in the book.

The relationship between Juilet and Rosaline seemed a little extreme at times, though the kitchen scene helped. Juliet is painted as the evil cousin who steals Rosaline’s boyfriend away. While she did seem to go after Rob even though she knew he was more than friends with Rosaline, I wish he would have been blamed just as much for the relationship happening to begin with.

Writing/Voice:

The writing and voice was very easy to get into. This book was a little hard to put down at times.

Ending:

The ending is sweet, but somehow felt a bit out of place after the tragedy. I like that it ended with a new direction of life for Rosaline, but the entire ending just seemed a little off. Maybe it’s because it pretty much skips from the tragedy to the ending.

Overall:

This was a really good story, with great characters and intriguing relationships. The only thing that keeps me from rating it 5 stars is a few instances of slut-shaming (by the friends in conversation), as well as Rob not getting nearly as much heat for his part on the relationship (Juliet didn’t just force him to be with her against her will, you know). I’m getting tired of seeing the slut-shaming thrown around in books, even if it seems realistic.

 

4stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

brvws14

 

This is the 16th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham
Published August 5th, 2010 by Viking Juvenile

 

Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian’s new girlfriend–all of the sadness she feels about her mom’s recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife/s new baby. When Carly’s stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it.

 

 

————-

Plot:

A plot I haven’t really seen in YA before, especially from a girl protagonist. There were a few times in which I was confused, but overall it worked. It went from the present to the past, then slowly moved back to the present, then back to more of the past. I wasn’t expecting any of it though, so it was a nice surprise. I tended to like the beginning and middle of the book better than the last part. It was harder to sympathize with Carly as the plot got more crazy.

Setting:

The setting was very easy to picture, even though I have never been to New York. The camp was also easy to imagine. It felt very realistic and I grew to love seeing New York from Carly’s eyes.

Characters:

Carly was an easy character to like and sympathize with for a while. I know what it’s like to have your heart broken and to be ignored. I also know what it’s like to have a broken family. And I can see how all of these events contributed to her crazy, compulsive behavior. It got a little harder feeling sorry for her as she went off the deep end, but I still cared about what happened to her in the end.

Though I wanted to hate the love interest for breaking Carly’s heart, it was hard for the most part because he was very likable. I could also see why he would fall for his new girlfriend, who seemed like a really nice person.

I also liked Jess and Nick. I didn’t care as much for Carly’s parents, who felt a bit aloof, but they seemed to have their own worlds they were involved in.

I found Val to be kind of annoying and didn’t really understand why she was Carly’s best friend at times. The relationship purging was a good idea, but I could also see why Carly wouldn’t be so open with her.

Relationships:

The relationships were really well done for the most part. Especially in the case of Carly and Brian. Their relationship was believable and also made Carly’s inability to let go more understandable than if we hadn’t been shown it. It made me sad that things didn’t work out for Carly and Brian until Carly began to get a little too obsessive over his fame and exposure to other people.

I also really liked her relationship with Jess and Nick. Her relationship with her parents seemed to be more strained, though I don’t blame her in her mother’s case.

Writing/Voice:

The only thing I disliked was when the author would sometimes talk directly to the reader. Other than that, I enjoyed it a lot and easily got swept up into the beginning and especially the middle. The last part was harder. It felt kind of stiff.

Ending:

I didn’t like how the details of Carly’s “punishment” got glossed over. They almost felt like an afterthought. I did like how Carly seemed to be moving in a new direction, though.

Overall:

Very riveting read with deep emotions and relationships. Also shows how easily things can get out of hand and how stalking is not okay. I could see myself reading it again in the future.

 

 

3halfstars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Time Between Us (Time Between Us #1) by Tamara Ireland Stone

brvws14

 

This is the 15th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Time Between Us (Time Between Us #1) by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published October 9th, 2012 by Hyperion

 

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction

 

 

 

————-

***The following may contain some spoilers***

Plot:

Similar to The Time Traveler’s Wife, though I liked this one better. The plot was very unique and something I wasn’t expecting. I really loved the traveling aspect in regards to both characters–Anna’s love for travel and Bennett’s ability to travel.

Setting:

The setting was very easy to picture. I almost felt like I was right there with them, especially in Illinois in 1995. Some of the exotic places were a little harder to imagine, mostly because i have yet to been overseas, but they sounded wonderful.

Characters:

I enjoyed most of the characters in this. Anna was a refreshing POV to read from and I loved her dreams of traveling. Bennett was more mysterious but also full of life. Emma was hilarious, Justin was sweet, and I also liked Anna’s parents as well as Maggie. They felt like real people.

Relationships:

I really enjoyed the romantic relationship between Anna and Bennett. While they fell for one another really quickly, I also know what that’s like. Their relationship is still new but I think they could definitely make it work. I also liked that there was some conflict in it.

Anna also has a great relationship with her best friend, Emma. Her relationship with her parents also seemed very realistic. The only relationship of Anna’s that I had trouble with was with Justin because he didn’t seem as solid of a best friend as Emma, and the attraction later on kind of came out of the blue. But other than that, I liked most of her relationships with others.

Besides his relationship with Anna, I enjoyed the one he had with Maggie. It was bittersweet.

Writing/Voice:

Very easy writing style to get into and had a realistic voice.

Ending:

I kind of expected the very end, but that’s okay–I can be a sucker for happy endings.

Overall:

Had me hooked from the first page and was very enjoyable. I could see myself re-reading it in the future.

 

4stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

brvws14

 

This is the 14th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Published January 7th, 2010 by Viking Juvenile

 

Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly. Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one,not even Julia’s boyfriend, knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

 

 

 

————-

***Review may contain some slight spoilers***

Plot:

The initial plot was intriguing and interesting, but there were so many subplots entwined with it that it felt a bit rushed and sometimes overwhelming.

 

Setting:

The setting was easy to picture and the Black Mountain vs the Flats reminded me of The Outsiders in a way.

 

Characters:

Most of the characters fell flat for me, though they were realistic. I just never connected with Colt or with Julia from the letters. The only characters I really liked were Syd, Tom, and Kirby. I especially liked how independent Kirby was.

 

Relationships:

There are several relationships in this book. I felt the way the relationship between Colt and Julia wasn’t quite as deep as I was expecting. The journal entries seemed very short and at times shallow, and the few memories Colt gives us don’t seem to show very much, either. I very much understand Colt’s obsession and guilt over her death, but it just didn’t feel like a deep relationship to me, despite it being a year long.

The relationship between Colt and Kirby felt much deeper and more realistic. I especially liked that she wasn’t willing to compete over a ghost.

 

Writing/Voice:

The writing style was great, and even though I didn’t connect with Colt as a character, he still had a realistic teen boy POV.

 

Ending:

The ending was kind of “blah”, but at this point I was just glad to be moving on.

 

Overall:

It wasn’t as good as I was expecting, but it was all right. Nothing I would ever read again, though.

 

 

 

2stars

jncname

Book Review–Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver

brvws14

 

This is the 13th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
Published March 5th, 2013 by HarperCollins

 

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

 

 

————-

 Plot:

Plot-wise, this felt similar to the one in the second book, only with more action in the Wilds. The book is told from Lena and Hana’s POVs, which was interesting, but in a way I am wondering if Hana’s was necessary at all. I guess it helped give readers a conclusion of sorts for her, as well to see how people like her were coping, but otherwise I would have rather just had Lena’s POV all the way through.

Setting:

Similar setting to the last book, and also one from the first. For the most part everything was easy to picture until the real action packed scenes near the last third of the book, but not sure if it is on the author’s end or mine, since I have trouble with scenes that involve a lot of action.

Characters:

Lena has definitely changed over the course of the three books, and in a good way. She went from being an incredibly naive, kind of emotionless person to an independent one who deals with things better.

Hana kind of went in the opposite direction. I liked her okay in the first book, and was truly shocked at what she did to Lena and Alex in the short story. I did feel bad for her upcoming marriage to the monster mayor’s son, but she was so emotionless at the end that I was ready to be done with her.

It seemed like the rest of the cast was just there, which was kind of disappointing considering I really liked Julian and Alex in the other books. In this one, it was hard to remember why exactly.

I did like the twist with Lu–I never expected a thing.

Relationships:

Each of the past two books featured a different romantic interest, and for once I actually liked both of them. However, in this book, both relationships are strained. By the end of the book, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked one better over the other–though I give Alex props for his note.

The only other relationships worth mentioning other than those is the budding one between Lena and her mother. I felt it was well done, considering all that had happened. Same with Hana and Lena.

Writing/Voice:

As usual, Oliver’s writing is beautiful and easy to get lost in. The different POVs kind of disrupted the writing and at times, the story, though.

Ending:

I’m mixed on how I feel about the ending. On one hand, there’s a lot of unresolved issues. What happened to Fred? Tack? Hana? Did the resistance fully succeed? I’m okay with Lena’s decision concerning her love triangle. Overall, I like that the ending seems to at least wrap up with the importance of freedom. I wouldn’t have minded an epilogue, though. I want to know how things end for Lena and the people she cares about.

Overall:

It didn’t blow me away, but wasn’t a bad conclusion for the series.

 

3halfstars

 

jncname

The Book vs the Movie: Tuck Everlasting

bvm14

tucktitle

Book written by Natalie Babbitt, 1974
Movie directed by Jay Russell, 2002

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

 

Doomed to – or blessed with – eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

 

 

 

Picture Source; Goodreads.com
Picture Source; Goodreads.com

VS

Picture Source: imdb.com
Picture Source: imdb.com

Which I Viewed First: The book.

Which I Enjoyed Most: Book.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Gets: 5 stars.

Out of 5 stars, the Movie Gets: 3 stars.

Things the Book Did Better: I felt the story was more enjoyable in written form. The relationships seemed deeper as well. I also feel the scene with the frog was stronger.

Things the Movie Did Better: I liked that Winnie was a bit older in the movie, because it makes her and Jesse seem more realistic.

Verdict?: Book.

Why?: I enjoyed seeing the movie made, and pretty close to the book, but the story and characters seemed much stronger in the book.

Should the movie be re-made?: Unsure.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

jncname