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Book Review: The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

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Amazon.com – The Dead Inside: A True Story by Cyndy Etler

Goodreads.com – The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

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Bookdepository.com – The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Non-Fiction

Plot: I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”

Opinion:

WOW.

When I say WOW, I mean…Holy S*** WOW.

I have to say guys, I wasn’t expecting this story to turn out like that at all. A few months ago I was looking through the new books on Netgalley, found this story and immediately requested it. I had heard about these types of camps and institutions years ago, but I have never looked into them that deeply. This story follows Cyndy Etler as she recounts her adolescence and her time in a “tough love” style rehabilitation camp.

At the young age of fourteen, Cyndy is thrown into a boarding school by her mother, or so she thinks. Cyndy quickly realizes that her new home is called Straight Inc., and it is actually a drug rehabilitation center for youths. From her first moments stepping inside Straight, Cyndy begins to realize that the methods used in the facility are far from normal. From being dragged down hallways by her pant loops, group meetings where teenagers wave their arms around erratically chanting, and frightening moments of being broken down by her peers…Cyndy has to decide how she is going to survive in this program.

So let’s first begin with how SERIOUSLY BIZARRE these programs are. Cyndy explains the more than frightening and psychologically damaging rules and things that went on at Straight, and I am still in shock. Kids are lead around by the back of their pants, forced to believe they have drug problems even if they don’t, screamed at and put down by their peers, and encouraged to report each other in order to get ahead in the program. The rules that the program instills is even more absurd. If you lean on the back of your chair in group, a peer will roughly drag their first down your spine to remind you to keep your back straight. As a newcomer, Cyndy wasn’t allowed to look or speak to any boys, and she was monitored at all times…even in the bathroom.

I think the oddest aspect of this program for me was what they called “motivating”. “Motivating” entails all these kids to be sitting in plastic chairs, boys and girls separated on either side of the room. Basically what happens is they flail their arms around above their heads, jerking and screaming about. Cyndy describes this process as a way to motivate each other to want to share your experiences, but admits that many of the kids “motivate” so hard so that they won’t be called on. Once called on, the kids are expected to stand up and admit a story from their past…but in most cases these kids are forced to make something up in order to impress the staff. If you mess up or do something wrong, you are confronted. This is where a peer may run up to you and start screaming in your face, or even psychically harm you.

The list truly goes on and on with all of the strange things these kids were forced to do, and from the outside this program made it look like they were only using tough love and peer pressure techniques to get these kids off drugs (see the below video). Cyndy expresses that it took her years to get “back to normal” after all of the psychological abuse and brainwashing that she went through at Straight. She wrote her story in a way that it felt like the reader was actually with her at fourteen, listening to her describe the horrors that became her life. Her writing style becomes a little confusing when she starts to describe “THE BEAST” or her group when she is first introduced to the “motivating” technique. It got me a little jumbled up, but as I continued to read her writing started to feel like a horrifically beautiful style of poetry which I really began to enjoy.

Honestly, EVERYONE needs to read this. For parents who are thinking of giving this to their kids to read, please keep in mind that there is a bit of sexual abuse that happens in the beginning of the story. That aside, this is a tale that anyone would be enthralled by. As soon as I finished this book I immediately started researching Straight Inc. and other programs like it. This is a disturbing story that will make your heart droop, but it is a MUST read! GO GET THIS!! You will not be disappointed.

For more information and personal stories on Straight Inc., check out SurvivingStraightInc.com

4-5-stars

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Books · Reviews

ICE KISSED (Book 2 in The Kanin Chronicles) by Amanda Hocking

 

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Bookoutlet.com – Frostfire (Book 1 in The Kanin Chronicles)

Bookoutlet.com – Ice Kissed (Book 2 in The Kanin Chronicles)

Amazon.com – Crystal Kingdom (Book 3 in The Kanin Chronicles)

Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: In the majestic halls of a crystal palace lies a secret that could destroy an entire kingdom…

Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal enemy that’s been threatening the Kanin, and Bryn is there to help. Being half Skojare herself, it’s also a chance for her to learn more about her lost heritage. Her boss Ridley Dresden is overseeing the mission, but as their undeniable attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level―one neither of them is prepared for.

As they delve deeper into the Skojare world, they begin to unravel a long-hidden secret. The dark truth about her own beloved Kanin kingdom is about to come to light, and it’ll change her place in it forever…and threaten everyone she loves.

Opinion: Here we are, book 2 in The Kanin Chronicles. I swear I have been reading this series so fast that all the books are starting to blend together, but in a fantastic way. Ice Kissed begins right where book 1, Frostfire, has left off. Due to this being a three part series, and this being the middle book, I am probably going to run through this review rather quickly. It’s usually a bit easier to summarize the entire series as a whole in the last books review, so watch out for that one!

After Bryn and her boss Ridley return home from Storvatten, Bryn copes with the sense of failure at not locating the missing Skojare Queen; as well as, letting Konstantin Black escape again. As the threats on the Kanin kingdom grow, so do the threats at the kingdom in Storvatten. Bryn, along with a Högdragen guard named Kasper, are then sent back to protect the Skojare people and the kingdom. Due to the royal family feeling that there is corruption among their guards, Bryn and Kasper work to find out what was really behind the disappearance of Queen Linnea. Soon hidden secrets start to surface, and more than one mystery starts to intertwine as the kingdoms move closer to war.

So there is A LOT happening in this book, and there is no way I can touch on everything without this review taking at least two hours to read. Therefore, I will try to summarize the book in its entirety, without giving too much away. This book starts off with Bryn and Ridley just arriving back to Doldastam. Bryn is having some serious regrets about not being able to find Queen Linnea, and for letting Konstantin Black get away again. But Bryn being Bryn, she is determined more than ever to set things right and protect innocent people and her kingdom. Once again, Bryn finds herself at the Skojare palace with Kasper, a Högdragen guard, where they work together to find out what is really going on in the kingdom. After talking to multiple guards and the royal family, they feel that they keep hitting dead ends. But after the Skojare King is almost killed, they start to find clues as to what is really going on.

I really enjoyed this story, and think it was a great follow up to book 1. The main character is in a new setting, working with new characters, and there is another mystery intertwining into the already major issues that are happening. I think Bryn is developing into a great character, and in this installment she has proven to be a highly likeable and real person. The author has been doing a great job of keeping the reader on their toes about what the conclusion will be, and this book was no exception. I had started off having a VERY strong inkling to who was behind everything, but the author throws in all these extra “scenes” and problems that kind of started to throw me. At the end of the book I was completely shocked (but in some ways, not too shocked) about what happened to Bryn, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on book 3…which I just received in the mail! SCORE!

The relationship between Bryn and Ridley heats up in this book, and I mean it seriously HEATS up. It’s so hot it’s dipping over that line of PG-13 but kind of R rated…kind of. I will say, their wishy-washy-ness with each other was starting to get on my nerves in this book. Sometimes I wish I could just grab those characters, shake them, and make them get over their weird insecurities. Honestly guys, were all adults here!

I know I sped through this one, but it is all leading up to book 3 so that I can summarize the series as a whole. Book 2 is usually, in most cases, a book that sets up for the final book that brings everything together. The refreshing thing about this series that I am finding is that these books flow so perfectly together, and they each have their own special thing going on. I am really recommending this series to all of you, it has gotten me addicted for the past three days and I am going to be so sad when it’s over.

4 Stars

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Cover Reveal & Kindle Fire Giveaway!!

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COVER REVEAL & Kindle Fire Giveaway!

How to Save a Life by Emma Scott

Pre-Order Link:  HYPERLINK “https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Famzn.to%2F1Jsb9OJ&h=OAQH68arR” \t “_blank” http://amzn.to/1Jsb9OJ 
Rafflecopter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8ba816c09/

Synopsis:

Josephine Clark is trapped. A harrowing past haunts her every time she looks in the mirror, and she can’t escape the violence of her everyday life. More and more, her thoughts turn to Evan Salinger, the boy she knew in high school. The boy they called a mental case. A loner. A freak. The boy who seemed to know things no one could know. For a few short weeks, Jo had found perfect solace in Evan’s company, sneaking every night to meet him at the local pool. In the cool of the water and the warmth of Evan’s arms around her, Jo had tasted something close to happiness. Cruel circumstances tore them apart, and four years later, the sweet memory of their time together is dissolving under the punishing reality of Jo’s life now. Evan seems like a fading dream…until he reappears at the moment she needs him most. Guided by Evan’s strange intuition, they flee her small Louisiana town, running from police and criminals alike, and Jo begins to suspect there is something more to his sudden return than he admits. Over twelve days across America’s heartland, deep secrets come to light, buried pasts are unearthed, and the line between dreams and reality is blurred as Evan and Jo fight to hold on to their soul-deep love, and discover that there is more than one way to save a life. How to Save a Life is a complete second-chance STANDALONE novel with some shades of the paranormal. It carries the characters from high school through to their early twenties. It is not YA; mature subject matter and sexual situations. For readers 18 years and up.

Books · Reviews

BLOOD BEYOND DARKNESS by Stacey Marie Brown

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Amazon.com – Fire In The Darkness – Book 2

Amazon.com – Dwellers of Darkness – Book 3

Amazon.com – Blood Beyond Darkness – Book 4

Genre: Mature/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy/Romance/Adventure

Plot: After months of searching, Ember and her friends have finally located the Sword of Light, the only weapon capable of destroying Queen Aneira and ending her rule. This is Ember’s destiny. Or so she thought. Now a pact to save the man she loves changes everything.

In this final installment in the Darkness Series, when the truth comes to light, Ember will learn some things are better left in the dark as her world is ripped even further apart. It is no longer a rabbit hole, but a never-ending black void full of endless lies, betrayals, and secrets.

The fight for Earth has begun, and Ember will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save millions of innocent lives and those she loves.

But this price may be too high—even for her.

Opinion: This is book 4 in the Darkness series by Stacey Marie Brown, and let me tell you…it’s on f*****g fire. I did a review on book 1, Darkness of Light, where I ranted and raved about how AMAZING the first book was. Though I did receive the first book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, I naturally had to order the rest of the series on my kindle right away. So instead of giving you a play by play of each book, and because I honestly didn’t want to take the time to write a review in between each book (yeah, it’s that good), I decided that I would just review the last book in the series. This way I can give a general review of the entire series as a whole.

This series started out with our main character, Ember, discovering the truth about why she is so different from everyone around her. Not only is there actually mythical creatures and demons in the world, but she is a mixed breed that is called a Dae – a half demon and half Fae (fairy). This series takes the reader into the life of Ember as she struggles to find out about a world that she should be calling home. As Ember struggles to grasp her new reality, she and her fellow dark dwellers are forced to now deal with the war that is slowly brewing between the creatures of the darkness and the creatures of the light. Soon Ember is taken under the wing of Lars, the Unseelie King of the Dark, to be able to control her powers and defeat Aneira, the Seelie Queen of the Light who wants to steal her powers and destroy Earth. Soon the first knight of Queen Aneira, Torin, tries to help Ember and claims that he would do anything to keep her safe. But Ember has to decide who she can and cannot trust, and in this world, just because creatures are from the light…it doesn’t mean they are good. As the complicated relationship between Ember and Elighan starts to grow and become something more, Ember discovers that she has a much deeper past into this other realm and with Torin than she might think. This series is full of blindsiding twists, heart wrenching drama, and magnificent adventures that will keep readers on edge until the very end.

I finished this series a few weeks ago, but I have just now gotten around to finishing up my review for it. This series definitely has a lot of the same themes as The Mortal Instruments, but ends up having more mature content in it once you get past the first book. I could not put this series down, and the only time I did was so that I could eat, sleep (very little sleep was involved I will admit), and go to work. Since I have already compared this series to The Mortal Instruments, I might as well give a few more options as to how they are similar and different. Firstly, the obvious fact that the Darkness series ventures from being YA Fantasy in the first book to Mature Adult Fantasy throughout the rest of the series whereas The Mortal Instruments stays in the YA genre. Secondly, the overall storyline is about demons, Fae creatures, gnomes, magic, and a yearning for the realm of the magical to want to abolish Earth for making them hide for so long. Thirdly, we have a love triangle between our main heroin and two VERY different brooding male characters. Elighan is very much like Jace from The Mortal Instruments in the sense that they are both arrogant, obnoxious, and have an overly fantasized notion in their heads that they are the most terrible thing to walk any realm. So be prepared for the exciting, and at times annoying, flying emotions that surround Torin, Ember, and Elighan. Fourthly, deaths are not always as they seem to be. No, I will not explain further. 😉

I loved this series, but of course I wish there was A LOT less sexual content. I am not one for that genre at all, so the fact that I so willingly and easily looked over those parts of the series and can STILL claim my love for it…must tell you how amazing it really is. I am honestly very surprised that this series is not more popular or more well-known. These are books that you can get completely lost in and that will make you forget what a social life even is. Though I do wish the main character, Ember, could be a bit less melodramatic about everything, I still think she is one fierce female and a force not to f*** with. I thought the ending was perfect, I loved the twist and how the author showed that not everything is what it seems or about one character.

If you haven’t bought this series yet, YOU NEED TO GET ON IT!! I cannot stress this enough, you NEED to read this. It’s a YA/Adult Fantasy that has the volume on full blast and refuses to be turned down. Enjoy this as much as I did, you need it in your life!Stars

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Blog Tour · Books · Reviews

WONDERWALL by M.H. Soars

51h6mWTHlrL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Amazon.com – Wonderwall

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Raven PA, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Mature YA/Adult/Romance

Plot: There is something magical when best friends fall in love. Liv and Sebastian used to be inseparable until circumstances beyond their control destroyed their fairytale romance to dust.

Liv hasn’t seen Sebastian since he walked out of her life five years ago. When she accepted her internship in London, she never dreamed their paths would cross again. Not when Sebastian is a celebrity, a singer in one of the most popular boy bands of all times. Living in the same city, their worlds couldn’t be farther apart. But when two people are destined to be together, they can’t outrun fate.

*Note from author: Due to mature content, this novel is recommended to readers 18+

Opinion: This book will take the reader through a youthful and adorable romance that has its fair share of emotional roller coasters and tribulations. The author takes a romance from an early youth and blossoms it into a romance for the young adult, but be weary of explicit scenes and in depth scenarios between our main characters.

In early high school Sebastian and Liv were best friends and next door neighbors, but soon their relationship turned into something more. Soon after they had quickly fallen for each other, tragedy struck Sebastian and his only way to cope was to leave Liv and move to London with his extended family. Now, five years later, Sebastian is a singer in one of the most popular boy bands in the UK (and the world) and it is impossible for Liv to escape her memories of how he left her. But after Liv accepts an internship at a high-end hotel as an events coordinator, she finds that their paths might be destined to cross again.

Call me repetitive and predictable, but I couldn’t get into the character of Sebastian at all. I really should check on my sensitive side at this point because every time I meet a whiny and emotional character I want to vomit. The reasoning is this: there is a way to make your character caring and passionate about something without making them sound completely…annoying. At the beginning of the story I thought the writer captured the essence of Sebastian and Liv perfectly, their emotional levels felt like teenagers. They thought, spoke, acted, and read (no, not like they were literally reading in the story 😉 ) like actual teenagers. But, as the story moved on and the characters go older, I found that they still had the emotional state of teenagers…the only difference is they were having sex like maniacs. Yeah, MANIACS. I swear this book went from “Aw, how cute!” to *sideways eye glance* “Whhhhatttt?”. Color me REALLY SURPRISED by that development.

All main male character loathing aside, the writing style that the author has is perfect for this Mature YA story. This writing is straight forward, and the author does a fairly decent job of explaining the pain the Liv feels after Sebastian breaks her heart. There is always room for more details and description when describing the emotions that a character is feeling, but for this work I think what was written works great. This story goes back and forth in writing in the voices of Sebastian and Liv, and in one scene with Sebastian I felt like I had literally stepped into the mind of a twenty-year-old guy! The author made his thoughts clipped and dismissive, he was noncommittal with everything, and didn’t give any experience or conversation a second thought. I sat there thinking how spot on his character felt in that moment, so I was a little disappointed to see him get so mushy in the end. But who knows…maybe guys really are that sensitive on the inside…? HAH 😉

Overall, this is a romantic and touching story about a guy getting the girl of his dreams back. If you are REALLY into young love, heartbreak, drama, and a guy pouring his heart out to a girl, then you will probably love this book to the ends of the earth and back. For me, it was just a little too mushy and sensitive for my taste. Please also make sure you understand that there is sexual content in this book, so if you are like me and don’t really enjoy that in a book…then maybe be cautious of this one. Also, if this book sounded interesting to you then READ IT! This is only my opinion, so don’t let that sway something you can enjoy. 🙂

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Reviews

Fire In The Darkness by Stacey Marie Brown

51HQDPmszVL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Amazon.com – Darkness of Light – Book 1

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Mark My Words Book Publicity, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Mature YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: Freak. Witch. Crazy. Schizo.

Ember Brycin has been called them all. She’s always known she’s different. No one has ever called her normal, even under the best circumstances. Bizarre and inexplicable things continually happen to her, and having two different colored eyes, strange hair, and an unusual tattoo only contributes to the gossip about her.

When the latest school explosion lands her in a facility for troubled teens, she meets Eli Dragen, who’s hot as hell and darkly mysterious. Their connection is full of passion, danger, and secrets. Secrets that will not only change her life, but what and who she is—leading her down a path she never imagined possible.

Between Light and Dark, Ember finds a world where truth and knowledge are power and no one can be trusted. But her survival depends on finding out the truth about herself. In her pursuit, she is forced between love and destiny and good and evil, even when the differences between them aren’t always clear. At worst, she will incite a war that could destroy both worlds. At best, she will not only lose her heart but her life and everyone she loves. Once the truth is out, however, there will be no going back. And she’ll definitely wish she could.

Opinion: Okay readers, I have something great to show you! I know so many fellow bookworms on Goodreads and Instagram have been looking for another amazing series that feels like a version of Twilight (one with better writing) or of The Mortal InstrumentsLOOK NO FURTHER! I started this book on my lunch yesterday (12:00 – 1:00 PM), had to agonizingly put it down while I continued on with my work day (1:00 – 4:00 PM), which then lead to me immediately reading it once I got home and not stopping until I was finished. Not only did I tell myself my review could wait until tomorrow (procrastination never sleeps), but I immediately purchased book 2 Fire In The Darkness. Okay…you caught me. I read book 2 into the wee hours of the night, finished it, and yes…I might have ordered book 3 Dwellers of Darkness already. Sue me, because I am a tad bit obsessed. 😉

Ember Brycin has been dealing with her peers treating her differently for her entire life, and her unique looks don’t help her case. After several incidences of electrical explosions start to happen whenever Ember is near, she is forced to attend a school for troubled youth. Here she meets the alluring and dangerous Eli Dragen, who makes a point to show his distaste for Ember. Soon Ember starts to learn the truth about who, or what, she really is and is forced to choose who to trust.

AH! This book absolutely grabbed my attention from the beginning and I am still having trouble putting this series down! The beginning starts out feeling very much like a scene from Carrie, but the overall series definitely has a Twilight and The Mortal Instruments feel to it. Due to these descriptions sometimes not giving you guys enough to go on about the book, let me dig in a little deeper into what this series morphs into. Ember is sassy, independent, strong-willed, ferocious, and FANTASTIC. Her character reminds me of Jessica from the 1-800 Where Are You series, in the sense that both of these girls are attracted to the “bad boy” lead male characters but aren’t the damsel in distress type. Ember can hold her own, and she is a very entertaining character to follow into this series. Eventually the reader will learn that Ember and Eli are Otherworlders, which includes creatures like demons, faeries, goblins, and Dark Dwellers, and that Ember is a species of Otherworld that is forbidden to be alive. I will say no more, I cannot spoil this for you guys!

The writing in this series is wonderful, the author is fantastic at character development, and she doesn’t rush over things at all. There was a nice even pace throughout this book and I was COMPLETELY ABSORBED in it. I enjoyed how the author kept the tension and the suspense building between Eli and Ember, but made sure not to completely drown the reader in a romance that is bound to happen. Please also keep in mind that this is a Mature YA/Adult series, meaning that it is focused on its story-line and rather tame but it gets a little bit hot and heavy…but not enough to make this fall into the erotica genre.

OVERALL, FANTASTIC! A MUST READ SERIES! If you are looking to get lost in another world, you need to try this out. I am SO looking forward to continuing on to book 3 and seeing where the author takes the story.

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