Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Swell by Julie Rieman Duck

When Christian Rusch plucks Beck Ionesco from the freshman ranks for himself, she’s tempted with parties, popularity, and love. But as the free-flowing booze that soaks his world seeps into her own, Beck begins using liquid courage as a way to ignore Christian’s dark moods… and cover her anxiety about his flirtatious friend Hillman.
However, when Christian breaks up with Beck, and Hillman makes a dangerous move, no amount of alcohol can stop the pain or keep her out of trouble. And just when it seems like she’s lost everything, Beck is partnered with Jesse Leary for an art project. After spending time with him, Beck realizes it’s more than a study date… and Christian’s not happy about it. Then again, Beck’s not sure she’s happy with him, either.
But only after plowing through a bottle of wine, a wild fight, and one guardrail that becomes Christian’s last call, does Beck admit to her problem and ask for help from the one whose life secretly parallels her own.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in San Clemente, California, Julie Rieman Duck wrote her way through school on an old-fashioned typewriter. Somewhere along the line, she was sidetracked by careers in magazine publishing and copywriting. While Julie honed her skills at writing print ads and articles, the stories that moved her heart and soul were bubbling underneath, waiting to escape.
It took a medical scare and the loss of her job — on the same day and within 30 minutes of each other — to finally allow her stories to free themselves and be put to paper.
Julie looks forward to writing more stories that hit where the heart beats fastest, and the soul reaches out for more. 

And she blogs for YA Stands 
(author interviews) every other Tuesday.

Swell was a different and difficult read for me. I don't read a lot of realistic fiction. Why??? Well, it's just  too real. With the full blown emotions I endure for my favorite fantastical worlds and their magical characters, realistic fiction is more often than not, too much for my heart and mind to take. Passionate much? Way to. 
Why did I chose to read Swell? I felt it was important. I thought it focused on a very prominent and misunderstood epidemic. It is an epidemic. If you don't believe so, you are disillusioned. I knew I wanted to be able to share it, should I deem it worthy. I wanted to be able to put my two cents in- when don't I? And I wanted to see where Rebecca's journey would take me.
Granted I had heard great things about this story and it's gifted author,I still wasn't sure I wanted to be part of a tour for someone I wasn't familiar with, for a topic that carried such weight. I. Am. So. Glad. I. Did.
Swell was everything it promised. A dark and a frightfully true telling of a young girl so in tune with her addiction and so out of touch with herself and reality. 
Someone who hasn't been through or dealt with a friend or family member that has fallen under alcohol, or any drug's spell- let me tell you now... This is exactly how a compromised mind thinks. What may seem silly, even ridiculous to an "outsider" becomes the most important thing(s) in the world to the drug's victim. However twisted and irrational it may be to everyone else, in their mind it makes perfect sense- and nothing else matters.
So back to the story at hand. We fall into Rebecca's world in a sort of flashback. One of the things I loved most about Julia's writing was her fearless leap to tell Beck's story in a past and present perspective. While we go through her everyday events in real-time, Julie begins each chapter with a very real account of where Beck's actions and addiction have taken her. What would otherwise seem a natural, normal teenage rite of passage turns into a girl's worst nightmare. It's nothing short of brilliant. And gut wrenching. And terrifying. 
Julie has obviously poured her heart and soul into this book. And I gave over mine as I fell in and was consumed by the darkness and pain. 
It was overwhelming and I was nearly undone. Much of it hit so close to home and brought back memories and fears I'd tucked carefully away. 
But I couldn't look away and I couldn't bear leaving Beck in such turmoil and desperation. Especially when she hadn't yet accepted how desperate she truly was. 
I won't go in to where her story ends. I think this is a tale everyone- every teen, parent, teacher and anyone who deals with kids should experience firsthand. Be thankful- if you've managed to avoid the pressure, dodged a bullet or just got damned lucky, and haven't had to experience it in real life. It's not pretty. It's not easy. It's very real. And it happens everyday. Probably to someone you know. And you may be completely unaware. 
Swell is definitely one of my top reads of the year. It's a must read. And Julie Rieman Duck. I'm your new biggest fan. Thank you for this absolutely amazing book. 
Whew!!  This book is a roller coaster of events that takes you to the top of the high hills, then down to the low valleys, and then twists you all up and when you think you are coming to the end, throws a loop in there to make sure you felt the whole ride....
Well, when I finished Swell, that is exactly how I felt.  Like I came off the most tumultuous, stomach clenching, heart-wrenching, head-swooning ride ever.
From the very beginning of Swell until the very end, you are held captive by what is happening to Rebecca...aka Beck.  Watching her rationalize every decision, allows you to see exactly what is going on in her thought processes.  Seeing why she made the decisions she did was very hard to take. It was not something that I could truly relate to, yet it allowed me to understand.  Her relationship with Christian made me so angry and when a certain event happened (of course I will not say since I don't reveal story line); I was then beginning to have some hope in a different outcome.  Of course, I should have known that the "loop" at the end of this roller coaster, that completely was expected yet not ready for, really tears you up.  It is the true eye-opener for the serious issues being written about in this book.
Yet within every situation, there is always someone that can be a ray of hope.  The one person that can bring you through the storm.  This special person in Swell is Jesse.  He was so refreshing and brought the light in this book that for the most part was so dark.
Wonderfully written, Swell, touches on subjects that many of today's teens are experiencing. It is not a light read by any means, but one that will tug at the heart and really make you see that being yourself is much better than trying to fit in.

TSK TSK What to Read would like to say a very special thank you to Julie Rieman Duck for having the courage and talent to write such a tough and touching story on this very real and controversial topic.
Swell is one of those works of fiction that has the power to change and possibly even save a real life.
Now...for the GIVEAWAY...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We also want to say a heartfelt thanks Candace of Candace's Book Blog and CBB Promotions for inviting us on this tour.


  1. Ladies, what powerful reviews about such a powerful book! You made me tear up because you really said it well. Shelley, I too had some personal connections with things and it made it hard to read, yet I KNEW how IMPORTANT the story is. SO important for people to know that this is real, this happens! And Kathryn, I agree that Jesse was the light in such a dark story and really made the book so much better.
    Thanks so much ladies for giving this one a shot! Huge (((hugs)))!

    1. Aw, Candace, you have ME teared up. Thank you so much. ~Shelley

  2. Thank you SO MUCH for having SWELL! What beautiful reviews. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, even though it was a tough cookie to digest. :-)


    1. Thank you, Julie. You are too kind. It was hard to digest, but so important and so beautifully written. I look forward to reading more of from you. ;) ~Shelley