Swell by Julie Rieman Duck Blog Tour and Giveaway

Posted November 6, 2012 in Author Feature, Giveaway / 10 Comments

Swell by Julie Rieman Duck

I’m back and I’m back with BANG!

[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#F9FBFC” background=”#B75BB7″]T[/dropcap]oday on my blog I’m talking about a book that absolutely, positively tested my comfort level in reading.  I don’t normally read contemporary novels and when I do, it’s usually from the young adult section.  I have this thing about “leaving reality” and reading young adult still lets me *poof* out of my world.

But even though this is a YA title, Swell hit waaaaaaay too close to home for me.   In so many ways, I could relate to the “mundane” world of Beck and the problems that grew out trying to become the person you think you want to be, to be with the person you want to be with.  It was such a challenge to my soul and my memories of high school life to read this book.  I really felt like I could have been Beck, had I just slipped down the path she took.  I was so similar to Beck when I was a teenager.

But before I totally embarrass myself, I’ve got to tell you a bit about the book…

Swell by Julie Rieman Duck

By Julie Rieman Duck
Published September 1st, 2012
224 pages
Contemporary | Young Adult
Source: Received from author in return for an unbiased review
4/5 stars

Swell by Julie Rieman DuckSwell by Julie Rieman Duck on Amazon


From Goodreads: 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.

Now, back to my review…

I had a hard time reading Beck; I wanted to scream and throw things at her.  She was selfish, stupid, immature and completely self-serving.  And I think Ms. Duck completely captured an accurate teenager going through that awkward time in her life where she tries to find her place in high school.  That’s probably why I didn’t like Beck – she reminded me of me back then.  I was stupid like Beck.  I used “liquid courage” to fit in back in my high school days.  I ended up in some pretty stupid situations.  And I’m extremely lucky that I survived as well as I did!  I got very lucky; I have many close members of my family who are alcoholics.  It would have been so easy for me to slip down that slope.  That’s why I KNOW this story is accurate.  This is teenage life.

The story and plot was a little slow going for the action junkie in me.  But that’s the way this story should be; it is a steady decline in Beck’s life that you’re a witness to; reality.

At the time I read this I was fighting a migraine (aren’t I always?).   Talk about being able to capture reality in words.  All the “hangover” scenes made me feel worse.  I had to put the book down and step away until I got my migraine under control.  After that, no problems.  Now, if I could figure a way to bill Ms. Duck for my extra pain meds (I’m sooooo kidding!!)

The setting, I believe, was highly accurate.  I have not been to the exact area of Laguna Beach or Laguna Niguel that the story takes place in but I have been up to the area (I used to live in San Diego).  My cousin lives in that area.  It is hilly, it is beautiful, it is rich and affluent, funky, and Ms. Duck painted a great picture of the area.  If you’ve never been to California you may not be able to picture the area on the beach where Beck went to drink by the train trestles, but that’s hard to explain to anyone who’s never been.

California is unique – just believe me when I say, “anything goes” there.  So a toga party in high school… believable.

This is not a light read by any stretch.  It has mature subject matter such as sex, rape, and of course, drinking.  But as heavy as the story sounds, I will tell you that there is a reward at the end.  I thoroughly enjoyed the very well done ending.  I was in tears for the last two chapters.  It was a welcome relief.

Any book that challenges my feelings like this is a good book by me.  I’m such the wordsmith, no?

I do want to share something personal (okay, maybe the emo-kid in me coming out).  I battle depression.  I guess I always have because I would get depressed as a teenager.  To deal, I would take my Walkman, my mix cassette tapes and sit outside on the side of my house and listen to the most emo songs I had.  Back then, I was into U2, Tears For Fears (the old stuff like Pale Shelter), and especially one song by Chaka Kahn called “Ain’t Nobody”.  Over and over I would just listen to the songs.  Yep, pretty angst-y.

I asked Julie Rieman Duck what would be her Top 10 Things To Do When You’re Sad, Overwhelmed, Or Need to Escape (Besides Drink).  Here’s her awesome list:

  1. Call a friend.
  2. Take a “meditation” walk and look at the plants, the sky, the birds, and all the little things around you.
  3. Go to the book store or library and browse – this is a great way to find solutions.
  4. Massage lotion into your feet and paint your toes.
  5. Flip-switch your thoughts and put them on something good, like your dog, the cool new boots you bought, or even that the sun is shining.
  6. Have something sweet, because chocolate and ice cream are great medicine!
  7. Clean your room or help around the house, as cleaning clears out negative energy.
  8. Create a new look online, whether it’s your blog, website, FB page.
  9. Change something, like your hair or clothes.
  10. Hug someone in your family, even though it may seem awkward and like you don’t want them involved. Know that you are loved.
  11. BONUS – write it down in a journal or pen a short story.


I personally adhere to her advice on changing my look online… often 😉  Thank you so much, Julie, for your fabulous list!!!  Where were you when I was 15??


Julie Rieman Duck

About the Author: 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.

Website | Blog | Goodreads | YA Stands Blog


I’m not done!  There’s a tour-wide giveaway!

This is a tour wide giveaway and ends 12/18/12.
One person will win:
(Open to US only)

Paperback of Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
Paperback of A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck

One other winner will win:
(Open Worldwide)

1 ebook of Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of The Joy and Torture of Joshua James
1 ebook of Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia
1 ebook of Cornerstone by Misty Provencher
1 ebook (kindle) of There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

By the way, my current emo song on heavy rotation in the Honda Odyssey is Temper Trap’s “Trembling Hands”. The lead singer had just gone through a painful breakup when he wrote this song.


About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

Tags: , ,


Subscribe via Email

Finally, FINALLY fixed! After days lost trying to fix... ;)

10 responses to “Swell by Julie Rieman Duck Blog Tour and Giveaway

  1. I was lucky that I never had to deal with any of that in high school. I can’t even imagine. I was an “odd” duck–I didn’t much care what people thought, was a nerd, and the craziest thing I did was be a really bad driver. 🙂

    I love her 10 list because I think it is perfect! I need more “medication” walks in my life! I think I will start taking them more often 🙂
    Felicia recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: The Asylum Interviews: Bronx (The Asylum Tales 0.5) by Jocelynn Drake

  2. I was a geek in high school, editor of my school paper and working close to 40 hrs a week. I went to a few parties, but found people my age to be stupid..so I ended up hanging with older crowds. This is not to say I didn’t drink and dabble..it’s just was few and far between. I am like you and do not dabble in contemporary all that much but this sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing your wonderful review and a little about you. {{hugs}}

    ps..i am still a geeky/nerd..only now its cool!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones {review-giveaway}

  3. This book seemed to touch your soul, and I enjoyed your review, hun.
    The top ten to do when you’re sad.. was a great addition to your post! I usually try to imerse myself in a great book!

  4. Fabulous review! I think it hit pretty close to home for me even though my own story is so very different. But I remember those teenage emotions and the crazy ups and downs and wanting so badly to fit in. I remember. And this book brought back loads of memories for me. I think it’s an important story because it’s TRUE. This DOES happen. I can appreciate an author who tells it like it is even if it’s not easy.

    And a fab list! I remember taking lots of walks as a teen. Mostly it was to sneak in a toke or two, but it also worked to clear my head.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!
    Candace recently posted…Review: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

  5. Wow great review…this novel really sounds like one that would hit home for a lot of teens (and adults looking back to teen years) I was pretty much a loner nerd in school…no real friends or activity outside of school do to home conditions…so I didn’t experience that aspect of teen life but can understand how easy it is to want to fit in or get validation from others any way one can.

    PS. as someone who suffers from a “severe lack of optimism” (as I call it) I love that top ten list. I do a lot of those things when I get in a funk.
    Melissa recently posted…Chat & Giveaway with Marquita Valentine, Author of Third Time’s a Charm

  6. Wonderful, beautiful review. Most of my favorite books aren’t the the ones that are technically great but the ones that have hit me in the gut in some way. Does it sound weird to say I’m sorry this one hurt but I’m glad that it touched you?

    I was a complete square in high school (still am) and even as a journalism and book nerd, I got a lot of crap for it. I don’t think there’s any way to win with all of the groups and peer pressure in high school. I LOVE your “ten things” list! I’m really good at #8, particularly. 🙂
    Barbara recently posted…2nd Blogoversary Giveaway: Rocky Mountain Heat by Vivian Arend

  7. Okay, I have this coming up on my blog too, but I wasn’t able to fit the book in yet. Now I want to bump it up on my list big time. I was pretty wild in high school and totally wonder how I survived all the stupid shit I did. So I hear you on that! lol. As for the CA thing… ohhhh yeah! 😀

    GREAT post!
    Christy recently posted…Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne

  8. Gaby

    Ever since I saw the cover for Swell I just had to read it (It is so gorgeous). Reading the review and the description makes me want to read it that much more 😀