Book Review: Swerve

51FRirjrxDL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Swerve
Author: Vicki Pettersson
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Rating: 3/5

Swerve is the horrifying psychological thriller that ensues after Kristine Rush and her fiancé, Daniel, stop at an abandoned rest stop in the middle of the desert on their way to his mother’s house for a Fourth of July party. Kristine desperately needs a place to change and although she is leery of the deserted rest stop, she goes in. As she changes, Kristine is ambushed by a man and when she narrowly escapes with her life, she finds that Daniel is missing. When Kristine gets into the car, she discovers that Daniel’s phone has been left behind and a message from her phone illuminates the screen. She realizes that her attacker is communicating with her through Daniel’s phone and if Kristine wants him back alive, she will need to follow all of the attacker’s instructions. Kristine is pushed to her limits as her attacker tests how far she will go to keep Daniel alive. She has twenty four hours to save Daniel and her attacker ensures that each obstacle is more terrifying than the last.

The entire story is told from Kristine’s point of view, as she struggles to complete the tasks that her attacker demands of her. It’s obvious from Kristine’s inner dialogue that she has a dark past, but her past doesn’t become clear until much later in the book. She continuously mentions the Coal Man and thinks back to how she has dealt with a psychopath before, but what she is alluding to isn’t revealed until the end of the novel. After learning about Kristine’s past, I really respected her as a character and continued to root her on. Kristine will stop at nothing to find Daniel and she proves to be resilient in her mission to find him. Her daughter, Abby, is mentioned throughout the book and eventually appears in a few of the later scenes. The love that Kristine has for her daughter is so unconditional and I really enjoyed the scenes that they shared together.

About halfway through the novel, Kristine discovers who her attacker is. I hadn’t been able to guess who the attacker was, and it left me a little shocked. As she interacted with her attacker, his twisted and psychotic thoughts are revealed. The attacker justifies all of his actions and truly believes that he is doing good in the world. In fact, he even tries to blame some of his actions on Kristine. When the attacker shares the a scene with Kristine, it’s cringe worthy and enough to make your skin crawl. I think Pettersson did a great job creating such a frightening villain and his actions kept me on edge until the end of the novel.

One of the main reasons that I did not really enjoy the novel is the amount of gore that it contained. The book is filled with graphic and violent scenes and although the plot was interesting, the violence was too much for me to handle. I also did not really like how the motivation of Kristine’s attacker seemed to change. In the beginning, the attacker tells Kristen that he is doing all of this to see if she cares about people, rather than the possessions she seems to value instead. The motivation then changes and the attacker claims that he kills in the name of evolutionary progress. Although a small disconnect, the inconsistency stuck with me throughout the novel.

Swerve is a psychological thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat and afraid to turn off the lights. It is definitely a book for those who enjoy the horror genre and not for those who are a bit more sensitive. I am not personally a horror fan, nor do I enjoy copious amounts of gore, so this wasn’t the book for me. However, I appreciated the plot and storyline and thought that it was a very engaging novel. The characters were interesting and if you can handle disturbing, horrifying, and violent scenes, this would be a good novel to read.

If you have read Swerve, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Swerve on Amazon, click here.

I received a copy of Swerve from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Just Do It

justdoitI can’t believe it’s July already. Where has the year gone?

I think that everyone can agree that the year 2015 has been progressing at an incredibly fast speed. It feels like only yesterday that I was making my New Year’s Resolutions and now the year is already more than halfway over.

When looking back on the year, it’s easy to regret opportunities missed or not taken and it’s easy to get into a mundane slump of redundancy. It sometimes feels like it’s too late to make the change that you want in your life, or the fear of failure is too great. However, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve done some serious reflection and have decided that there’s no time like the present to take the chances that could lead to something big.

Have you thought about your life goals or your New Year’s Resolutions and realized that you haven’t achieved, or even started, anything on your list? Instead of throwing the ideas away, decide what’s still important to you and just do it. Are you currently in a slump, whether it’s in your personal or professional life? If so, identify your problems and brainstorm solutions. If you constantly feel negative because you are surrounded by negative people, you could attempt to go out and make new friends. If you are stuck in a job that you don’t like, take a chance and pursue a career that you are passionate about.

Life changes, especially big ones, aren’t made overnight. It’s easy to get discouraged that your dreams haven’t become a reality in a short period of time. In order to stay motivated, create smaller, concrete goals that you can achieve along the way to your ultimate goal.

It’s a common belief that as people, we regret the chances we never take. Instead of merely thinking this and acknowledging it, take your dreams and make them a reality. It’s never too late to change your path and establish a life that you want to live.

Seriously. Just do it.

Until next week,

Debbie

One Year Blog Anniversary!

wordpressExactly one year ago, I posted my first blog post entitled Starting is the Hardest Part. I had struggled for a few years to get into the habit of blogging and had hoped that I would be able to begin blogging more regularly with this blog.

One year later and I’m very happy with where I am with my blog. I produce a new post every Thursday, with the exception of a couple of missed days, and I write a new book review bi-weekly. If you would have asked me if I would be doing this one year ago, I never would have thought that I could keep my posts so consistent.

Looking into the future of my second year of blogging, I have some goals to make my blog even better. I hope that these new additions to my blog will improve my current reader experience and enable my audience to grow.

A New Layout
Within the next couple of months, I will be rolling out a new website layout. The new layout will offer a reader friendly experience that provides an easy way to access all content. I will also be adding new features, content, images, and links that will improve my blog’s appearance.

A New Segment
In the fall, I will be debuting a new segment to my blog. Although I can’t give away any details, I am very excited to share it with you all. It will be a bi-weekly segment, much like my book reviews, and I think it will appeal to both book lovers and non-book lovers.

Continuous Content
I will continue to write weekly blog posts and bi-weekly book reviews. With the addition of my new segment this fall, I hope that I can continue to produce quality blog posts. I have really enjoyed this year of blogging and I am excited to continue in the future.

I want to thank everyone who has read, subscribed, and followed my blog over the past year. I appreciate the support more than I can put into words. Thank you very much and I look forward to writing many more posts!

Until next week,

Debbie

Book Review: Every Last Word

everylastwordTitle: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Rating: 5/5

Every Last Word is a young adult novel that focuses on Samantha McAllister, a seemingly popular girl that is attempting to hide her crippling Purely-Obsessive OCD. Sam is tormented by the constant demands of her group of friends, the Crazy Eights, and is always obsessing about her every action around them. Her thoughts can turn into dark spirals, causing her anxiety to spike. After a negative encounter with her friends, she meets Caroline, a laid back girl who struggles with depression. Caroline introduces Sam to the Poet’s Corner, a small room under the stage where the Poets gather every Monday and Thursday to share their poetry. As Sam grows closer to Caroline, she gets more involved in the Poet’s Corner, writes more poetry, and meets a guy that she can’t stop thinking about. For the first time in her life, Sam begins to feel normal. However, one crushing piece of reality will make Sam question her sanity and fear the opinions of those around her.

The novel is told from Sam’s perspective and I thought that her point of view was written beautifully. The anxiety and nervous thoughts are consistent throughout the novel and I thought that Ireland Stone did an amazing job creating such an authentic character. I really liked Sam and thought that she was incredibly easy to relate to. I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire book.

The supporting characters in this novel were just as authentic and real. I loved Sam’s relationships with Sue, her psychiatrist, and with her mother. Regardless of how alone she felt at school or with the Crazy Eights, she always had those two supporting her. I thought that the Crazy Eights were the typical “popular group” but they all seemed to have different personalities, which made them slightly more dynamic. The Poets were all wonderfully depicted and I especially liked Sydney and Emily. Sam’s interactions with AJ were incredibly sweet and I really loved watching their relationship develop, even after Sam’s shocking realization. Most importantly, I thought that Sam’s relationship with Caroline was written with great care and Caroline obviously helped Sam grow stronger and more sure of herself. Caroline was a vital piece of the story and I am glad she was written the way she was.

Sam’s realization that makes her question her sanity is a twist that I had not seen coming. Although I didn’t expect it, the twist made complete sense. I thought that the history behind it was well written and I really enjoyed Sam’s conversations with Sue about it. I think that it added another layer to the story and although it really tested Sam, I think it made her a stronger character by the end of the novel.

I thought that the ending was perfect. It was so satisfying to watch Sam transform throughout the book as she copes with her mental illness. I think that this novel will definitely help reduce the stigma of mental illness and normalize it. It was obvious that a lot of research was done into Purely Obsessive OCD and I think it’ll help others understand it more.The novel also explores some other mature subjects, such as depression, and I think reading about these topics through a teenager’s point of view was very interesting.

I absolutely loved Every Last Word. It is a very easy and enjoyable read that is filled with likeable and believable characters. The story is unique, wonderfully written, and I would highly recommend it.

If you have read Every Last Word, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Every Last Word on Amazon, click here.

I received a copy of Every Last Word from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Making Time to Read

MTTRThere are countless studies that discuss the numerous benefits that reading has on a person. Whether you’re looking to improve your intelligence or for a pure form of entertainment, reading a book will positively affect the brain. When writing, your creativity and brainpower are invaluable resources that can be increased when you read. Last week, I discussed the importance of reading. Today, I’m going to talk about how you can make time to read.

Schedule In Time to Read
If you haven’t read a book in a while, it might be hard to get back into the habit of reading on a daily basis. It’s easy to forget something that you aren’t used to doing, so make sure to schedule reading into your day. Whether you mark it on your calendar, make a note of it in your phone, or pencil it into your planner, make sure that you schedule a time to read. If you schedule your reading in advanced, there’s no way that you can “forget” to read. If you are really out of the habit, start by scheduling twenty minutes to read and then gradually build your reading time as you get more comfortable with your new routine.

Replace an Episode With a Book
Many people find television one of the easiest ways to relax. If you’re bored, stressed, or have some downtime, it’s easy to flip on the television and watch episodes of your favorite show for hours on end. If you were to take even thirty of the minutes used to watch television and applied it to a book, you could get some good reading in. Instead of watching the next episode of the show, turn off your television and pick up a book. Reading is just as entertaining, if not more so, than watching hours of television. Reading stimulates your mind and really gets you thinking. It would also do your eyes some good to give them a rest from hours of screen time.

Put a Book on Your Nightstand
A habit that is very easy to fall into is checking your cell phone before bed. Sending texts, checking social media, and watching videos before you go to bed is something many people do, but it’s not necessarily a good habit to have. Studies show that reading on a screen before you go to bed can be detrimental to your sleep, eventually causing health problems. Reading a printed book is the perfect way to unwind before bed, without the negative side effects of the screen.

Start a Book Club
You could join a book club that already exists, or you can create one with a few of your close friends. By being a part of a book club, you are turning the normally solitary act of reading into a social one. You will also feel more accountable to read your book so you can be a part of the lively discussion with your group. Discussing books with your friends is also a great way to learn more  about each other. Most book clubs allow the reader to have an entire month to finish a book, so this is a great option for someone just getting back into the reading habit.

There are countless ways to add reading into your day, you just need to make the conscious decision to do so. Start small and slowly build your habit. You’ll soon become a more well-read person and it’ll be easy for you to find time in your day to read.

If you have any thoughts on how to make time for reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Until next week,

Debbie