Book Review: Reintegration by Ashley Bogner

Welcome to another installment of ‘Kristin’s Book Reviews’ where I tell you exactly what I think about some of the most exciting new releases. Today’s book is special in the fact that it’s author Ashley Bogner’s first novel! Ashely has been a faithful reviewer of my books (even though we don’t always agree 100% on things) and I’m so excited to finally be able to return the favor. I was also able to interview Ashley about her writing process, which I know all my readers that write will enjoy. Without further ado, here is the interview. Make sure to keep reading to find out how much I enjoyed and ‘Reintegration’ along with a brief synopsis.

Interview with Author Ashely Bogner

What is the most difficult thing (or things) you struggle with as a writer?

World-building and scenery description, definitely. I’m so jealous of authors who craft richly-detailed, epic fantasy or sci-fi settings that make me feel like I’m actually in the story.

Are you part of a writing group? Why or why not?

I used to be part of a writer’s group that met once a month and I loved it. Unfortunately, my family moved and I haven’t been able to find a Christian writer’s group near me. It’s very disappointing, as I love meeting other writers and learning from their experiences.

When do your ideas usually come to you? When you’re writing? When you’re walking around? Reading a good book?

On car trips, actually! There’s something about watching the scenery go by while listening to music that just tends to inspire story ideas.

Although, I am also plagued quite frequently by the ideas that come when I’m trying to fall asleep and am too tired to write them down. 🙂

What kind of writer are you, a planner, a pantser, or a plantser (combination of the two)?

Definitely a planner. I never start a book without doing a gazillion outlines and synopses (I always want to write this synopsises—it’s very fun to say!). I don’t like getting half-way through a manuscript then realizing I either have no idea where I’m going or I have a major plot loophole. It’s also helpful for when I have to abandon a project for a while. I can just reread my outline and pick up right where I left off!

How many drafts do you write, and which of those is the most difficult for you?

This question made me laugh, because for me, there is actually no telling how many drafts I’ll have. Reintegration had one draft followed by some small edits. I’m currently on the fourth draft of the sequel. Once I finish the Reintegration trilogy, I’ll start my tenth draft of an old fantasy manuscript of mine. The number of drafts I’ll have is such a mystery.

Honestly, rough drafts are the most difficult. As I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of planning so I don’t run into a lot of writer’s block. Rough drafts are hard for me because I’m a perfectionist and I want everything to be just right the first time. Oftentimes, I’m not even half-way through the rough draft and I’m already dying to go back and edit. I really have to push myself to finish before I start rewriting.

Are there any character traits you have that you try to instill in your characters? Are there traits you wish you had that you give to your characters? What are they?

You’ll actually find a lot of “me” in my characters, especially my female protagonists. I want my characters to feel authentic, so oftentimes the fears and dreams and values and flaws and doubts they have are based off my own. I try to make them unique characters, but also have them be characters I relate to.

My characters have a lot more courage than I do. They’re more willing to take action when they need to. I’m that person who has to think through all the options before making a decision, and I sometimes miss opportunities because of it. That’s why I love speculative stories so much—the characters inspire me to be braver, even if I’m not involved in a world-saving adventure. 🙂

What genre is your new project?

Reintegration is a YA dystopian novel told from a Christian worldview. It’s also the first of a trilogy!

What was your world building process like for this project?

Dystopian is an interesting genre because it’s so theme-driven. World-building has always been a struggle of mine, but with Reintegration it came a lot easier than with previous stories. With dystopian fiction, I found that the “key” to world-building (at least for me) is building the setting around the theme. My characters live in a world where tolerance and relativism have been taken too far. I looked at each element of the setting from this perspective. What government type would reflect this idea best? What would the education system be like? How would people interact with each other? Then I filled in the details with things like clothing, food, vocabulary, etc.

My Thoughts On ‘Reintegration

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Categories: Speculative Fiction, Young Adult, Religious Fiction, Dystopian

This book is touching and thought provoking with plenty of twists and turns. There is some violence toward the end, which is why I don’t recommend this book for readers under the age of 13, but besides that I found it to be totally clean and appropriate. If you like futuristic dystopian style novels, ‘Reintegration’ will definitely keep you entertained and turning the pages. I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in one sitting. The only complaint I have is that sometimes there were paragraphs of Katherine’s inner thoughts that seemed to go on too long. Those scenes would have been more powerful without as much repetition and length. I think that is one of the main reasons why I haven’t seen very many five star reviews for this book… the too-long inner dialogue bogs down the flow of the otherwise smooth yet punchy story line. However, I remember what it was like to write my first novel, and I think given time Bogner will learn to avoid this mistake.

The themes in this book center on what happens when the true meaning of tolerance is forgotten and twisted into moral relativism, the importance of family, and establishing boundaries within the context of righteousness. Does God exist? And if yes, what would Katherine be willing to risk to get that information into the hands of her peers? Matthew was definitely my favorite character!

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series whenever it comes out, and I would definitely recommend it to my friends. I wish there was more Religious Fiction in the world like ‘Reintegration’.

You can purchase it here on Amazon, here on Barnes & Noble, and here on CreateSpace.

Reintegration Synopsis

TAG LINE:  A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both…

SUMMARY: As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?

AUTHOR BIO: When Ashley Bogner was in third grade, she decided she would be a published author when she grew up. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and has lived in seven different states. She completed a year of Bible college and in the fall will begin pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. After college, her plan is to work in the Christian publishing industry. When not writing, she can be found baking, posting book reviews on her blog, and watching her favorite movies over and over to the point of memorization.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Blog: http://www.ashleybogner.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleybognerwriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@AshleyBWriter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16953932.Ashley_Bogner

As always, happy reading!

Kristin N. Spencer

Kerfuffle the Tour

Today marks the beginning of the official Kerfuffle Blog Tour through the lovely and amazing Celebrate Lit Group. Here is a rundown of the the awesome bloggers that have read and will be reviewing Kerfuffle, the 3rd book in the Desires & Decisions Series. I’m mostly excited to read their reviews, but there is also the twinge of nerves that this cartoon perfectly illustrates:

But since I can’t stall forever… here is the list.

Kerfuffle the Tour

August 15: Bukwurmzzz

August 16: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

August 17: Ashley’s Bookshelf

August 18: Blogging With Carol

August 19: Just the Write Escape

August 20: Carpe Diem

August 21: A Reader’s Brain

August 22: Remembrancy

August 23: Margaret Kazmierczak

August 24: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

August 25: Baker Kella

August 26:  Avid Reader Book Reviews

August 27: The Power of Words (Spotlight)

August 28: JosephineAnneWrites

I would love for you to participate by visiting each blog each day and reading what these wonderful readers (some of which are also writers) have to say. And hey, you can also enter a competition to receive the Desires & Decisions Series in their full paperback glory for free along with a free tee from my Threadless Artist Shop. Cool, right?

As always, happy reading!

-Kristin

The Book We Thought We’d Never Finish

Today is launch day! It seems like I’ve had a lot of those lately, but this one is different for several reasons. Holy Sex Reboot: My Sexual Identity in Christ was like an illusive beast, hard to catch and even more difficult to keep pinned down. Besides the fact that it was our first co-authored book together as spouses (one of many we hope), and my first co-authored book ever, it was on a topic that exhausted our brains and in many ways broke our hearts. There is so much confusion and misinformation when it comes to ones sexual identity, and that is just as true in the Church of Jesus Christ. Every time we sat down to work on this book, we shredded more and more away. For me, that is always a painful process. Then there were the arguments… What should we add? Who was going to write that part? Did that addition make the difference that we wanted it to make? Add physical injuries and illness into an already complicated mix and you get… a really cool book?

The Book We Though We’d Never Finish

I am excited to say that this is one of the best books I’ve written, and that puts Travis way ahead of me since it’s his first book ever. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what readers are saying:

“As a single person I have often been frustrated with the Christian community’s lack of guidance on this subject. There is often a sex is taboo until you say ‘I do’ mentality. This book changes the discussion by pointing out how, even in my singleness, God has a plan for my sexuality.

The Spencer’s have done a wonderful job portraying the truth about God’s plan for sexuality in all walks of life. Their openness about their own journeys in purity are honest and insightful. I am so thankful to have a book on sex that I can recommend to all my friends; whether single or married. This book has been a blessing to my life and it will be a blessing to yours.” -Tabitha Burns, Hip Single Lady (24 years old), Serving in Full Time Ministry

“Travis and Kristin tackle a subject that many Christians shy away from, but they do so with much finesse and with valuable Biblical and personal insights. Holy Sex Reboot helps in understanding the divine principles of sexuality and in averting some of our misconceptions.” -Árpád Horváth Kávai, Pastor, Husband, & Father

This review is my favorite. It comes from a friend who volunteered to read it, even though she’s not the target audience:

“As a reader, I can give a chance to all kinds of books. If I like the subject matter, I read them. If I don’t, I ditch them. This particular book was something I would never imagine reading. Mostly for two reasons. First, it is written by Christians, and it’s addressed to Christians. Second, I didn’t know Christians would actually bring themselves to discuss the S-word in such detail. The Spencers have amazed me with their openness, honesty, courage and deep knowledge of the scriptures. They both seem to know what they’re doing, and they base all their advice on passages from the Bible. I believe Christians will be relieved to know that questions that have been torturing them regarding sex, can actually find answers in Holy Sex Reboot.

Now, the reason I think non-Christians will want to read it as well is very simple. Either single or married, people from all walks of life have been struggling with sexual frustration for years. Reading this book will not “convert” them to Christianity, but it will definitely help them regard sex as something more than a matter of the flesh. Especially married couples can revisit their behavior towards sex and proceed to have a healthier and more intimate sex life. The authors have been counseling couples, so it is certain that they know a thing or two on some of the factors why husbands and wives don’t always see eye to eye about certain things. I bet the topic of sex must come up very often during their sessions.

I was genuinely moved by the two authors’ confessions about their own mistakes and shortcomings and, for that, I salute them. It isn’t easy to expose yourself in such a way to help others. I think these two did a very good job.”

I hope you will find that this book bridges the gap for you between what ideas the Church accepts about sex and what the Bible actually says. If you have any questions we would love to hear from you.

Get your copy of Holy Sex Reboot: My Sexual Identity in Christ now for 33% off the normal price, a launch day special!

Happy Reading,

Kristin N. Spencer on behalf of me and T. E. Spencer

Book Review: The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

Click here to purchase.

The Who Could See is a Speculative Fiction book set in contemporary times. Note for those with younger readers: This book does contain some violence.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Speculative Fiction (Young Adult)

I loved the worlds that Kara Swanson created in this book. The setting takes place mostly in Los Angeles (my home town!). If you like dystopian, you will love this book. It has all the edgy qualities a dystopian novel would have, but is still set in contemporary times. Fern is a very interesting character, and her backstory is interesting, studded with pain and horror. This is a type of redemption story as Fern tries to find healing from her past and present afflictions, all while trying to discover if her imaginary friend is really imaginary after all. I also enjoyed the 2D characters in this book. Fern’s niece is adorable. I don’t want to give too much away, but the relationships in this story are complex and magnetic. Also, the villain rocks (as far as villains go). The Girl Who Could See is a great read.

I was provided a copy of this book by Celebrate Lit in case I wanted to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Be sure to keep reading for an interview with the author as well as information on her awesome giveaway.

About the Book

Book title: The Girl Who could See

Author: Kara Swanson

Release date: June 1, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy/Young Adult

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after al—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

About the Author

As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories herself. At seventeen, she independently published her debut fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Guest Post from Kara Swanson

Did you have an imaginary friend growing up? I did. And I think most of us probably understood what it was like to use our childhood imaginations to create friends and take us places.

The Girl Who Could See follows Fern Johnson, a young woman who’s imaginary friend, Tristan, first appeared in her life when she was eight years old—and has never left. Now nineteen, Fern still sees Tristan, only he is no longer her friend. Now he is her curse. The source of her insanity. The reason Fern cannot keep a job and has been passed from one psychologist to another. The reason she is one step away from a psych ward. However, Tristan disagrees. He says that he’s not a figment of Fern’s imagination and is determined to prove it. But, if his existence is real, it has dangerous implications not only for Fern, but for her world. Because the creature that decimated Tristan’s planet is coming for Earth—and only the girl everyone says is crazy can stop it.

I wrote the novella as a way to explore the idea of what would happen if someone had an imaginary friend who never left. What would the psychological and daily implications be? And what if that imaginary friend wasn’t imaginary? The story that grew from those sparks of ideas became an adventure that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did. 🙂

Blog Stops

June 27: A Baker’s Perspective

June 27: A Simply Enchanted Life

June 27: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 28: Kristin’s Book Reviews

June 28: Christian Chick’s Thoughts

June 29: Fiction Aficionado

June 29: Genesis 5020

June 30: Smiling Book Reviews

June 30: The Fizzy Pop Collection

July 1: Blogging With Carol

July 1: remembrancy

July 2: Inklings and notions 

July 2: Ashley’s Bookshelf

July 3: Zerina Blossom’s Books

July 3: God1meover

July 4: Book by Book

July 4: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

July 5: Dragons Read History

July 5: Through the Open Window

July 6: It’s Storytime with Van Daniker 

July 6: Baker Kella

July 7: Pause for Tales

July 7: Edits and Reviews By Leslie

July 8: Books, Books, and More Books.

July 8: Pursuing Stacie

July 8: The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate

July 9: Reader’s cozy corner

July 9: A path of joy

July 10: Neverending Stories

July 10: Henry Happens

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kara is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b7f6

Why Kerfuffle?

This week Kerfuffle, the third book of the Desires & Decisions series comes out! June 1st to be exact. And since the release is only a few days away, I thought I would share with you why I wrote Kerfuffle.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

Retrospective thoughts are so powerful, aren’t they? Now that I’m an adult I often look back on my adolescence and think, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” As a YA author, I read a lot of books in my own genre, and I’ve noticed a pattern. Though many of the secular YA authors are brave enough to talk about the tough stuff, not many Christian authors go after the real world difficulties that face our young people. The passage of time constantly rips through generations creating new problems and situations. The world that my children are growing up in is very different from what I experienced, and the challenges that they face as Christians are also different. The Desires & Decisions series was born out of the need for me to able to address these controversial topics with my own children. Olive, a teenage girl growing up in Southern California, serves as the lens of perspective as we see almost everything from her point of view. Her world provides a safe, fictional place for Christians to flesh out these thoughts and think through what the Bible teaches about topics like racism, bullying, loving one’s neighbor, what real love is, and addiction.

Why Kerfuffle?

Kerfuffle specifically explores the complex emotions associated with the Church and the temptation of same sex attraction. We get to experience the conflict Olive feels and also witness the varied reactions from different generations through Olive’s parents and other members of Revive Church. This issue isn’t going away, and as a Church we must be able to talk about it without alienating ourselves from those that struggle with this temptation. There is hope for every person through the blood of Jesus Christ, whether you struggle to love those who experience same sex attraction or you struggle with that temptation yourself. I hope Kerfuffle encourages you as you seek to walk closer to Christ.

Happy reading,

Kristin

That Special Feeling

When you’re a writer, you always want to write well. Each time I start a new project (I’m a planner, don’t judge me), the first step is to think about why I want to write this particular work. One thing that sets my novels apart is the nature of the topics I choose. For some reason I always have a new controversial idea I want to express. The readers have noticed, and that makes me happy. But I don’t just want to write books that deal with controversial issues. I want to write amazing books that make people think, feel, and question their preconceived ideas. “Writing to Transverse the Bubble” is my author tag line. I write every book with this goal in mind, and sometimes I get the feeling I’ve done it, but the book still isn’t where I want it to be on a scale of one to amazing. Four-star reviews make me happy, but I’m not satisfied. I want to earn five-star reviews.

That Special Feeling

Lately I’ve had that special feeling, the one you get when you know you’ve made something unique and wonderful. Maybe it’s a quilt or a painting. Maybe you’ve helped someone do something they couldn’t do before. You know the feeling I’m talking about, right? It’s a rush of adrenaline coupled with satisfaction and calm at the same time. Though you’re sitting or standing still, your skin dithers and the back of your eyelids feel electric. You know that this is the beginning of something special. Something amazing.

Kerfuffle, my new novel, comes out on June 1st. The feedback I’ve received so far has been thrilling. I don’t know how else to describe it. You see, Kerfuffle is the book I wanted to write from the beginning. I love Newfangled and Flummoxed. They each hold a special place in my heart, and their plots and themes are important. But Kerfuffle is the book I’ve been waiting to write. I feel like that shows. I almost wrote Kerfuffle right after Newfangled but my husband convinced me that Flummoxed needed to happen. He said it would be too disjointed if I introduced Olive to junior high and jumped straight into high school for the next book. She needed some time for things to seem normal before another big transition. He was right. I am very happy with how Flummoxed turned out. But Kerfuffle… there’s just something about the story.

Some people will probably be annoyed by it (and I can’t say why without spoilers), but I really don’t care. I love it. A piece of my heart is in this book, and I hope you will give it a chance.

When was the last time you had that special feeling?

Happy reading,

Kristin

Book Review: For Love & Honor by Jody Hedlund


To purchase your copy, click here.

For Love & Honor is a Christian Historical Romance set in the 1500s. It is labeled as a YA book, but I think it is appropriate for younger audiences as well.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction (Christian, YA, Historical Romance)

This was my first time reading author Jody Helund. I really liked the smart, yet flawed characters that grow as the story unfolds. At about halfway through this book I kept thinking, how can it go on much longer… it’s obvious what will happen and I don’t see how the author can draw it out so long. Well, I was very wrong about the direction the story was headed! This book has everything you would want from a historical romance set in this time period, knights, sword fights, thieves, impressive dowries, elegant dresses, and much more. My favorite aspect of the story though was Sabine’s transformation through the book. She comes to realize that God isn’t in the habit of making mistakes, but will it be in time? As an avid reader, I also appreciate how the main characters love reading. As you will see, this becomes an intregral part of the plot.

I don’t want to give away too much, because it was fun to be caught off guard, but I think this book would delight pretty much anyone. I will definitely be rereading it in the future.

I was provided a copy of this book by Celebrate Lit in case I wanted to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Be sure to keep reading for an interview with the author as well as information on her awesome giveaway.

About the Book

Book: For Love & Honor

Author: Jody Helund

Genre: Young Adult Historical

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy-tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five teen-aged children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund


Why I Write Young Adult (YA) Books

By Jody Hedlund

FOR LOVE & HONOR is the third book in my Young Adult (YA) series set during medieval times and centering around knights, castles, and daring damsels. For those who haven’t yet read An Uncertain Choice or A Daring Sacrifice, don’t worry. All of the books can be read as standalones.

While this YA medieval series has been a step away from my usual historical romances, I have to admit that the series has been SUPER fun to write.

First, I love writing in the medieval time period, a time overflowing with danger, wars, plagues, strange customs, harsh living conditions, and incredible differences between the have’s and the have-not’s. All of that is such excellent fodder for developing page-turning stories. And so usually as I’m writing these stories, I have no trouble putting my characters into life-threatening danger, which is always fun.

Second, I’ve had fun writing my YA series because I love being able to speak truths into the hearts of young people. I have 4 teenagers and one tween, so I’m surrounded by teen angst every day! As a result of dealing with lots of teen issues with my children and their friends, it’s my goal to share hope and encouragement that if my characters can persevere and handle the growing-up issues with integrity and strength, then my readers can too.

Finally, I’ve enjoyed writing my YA series because I believe teens need clean romance alternatives.  A lot of teens are reading romances (that’s when I started reading them). I’ve loved being able to provide a clean romance alternative with chivalry and honor and courage and lots of other themes that will hopefully give young ladies encouragement and inspiration as they move forward into building healthy relationships of their own.

Lest adult readers worry that FOR LOVE & HONOR might be too juvenile for them, then let me put your fear to rest. Reviews from my adult readers are showing that they, too, are enjoying the new book:

“This is marketed as YA, but it’s wonderfully interesting for all ages, in my opinion.”

“Even though it is written with the younger set in mind, I, being of the older set, enjoyed it immensely.”

“For Love and Honor is everything that fans of Jody Hedlund have come to appreciate and enjoy; regaling her readers across the generations with the timeless reminder that God-given uniqueness is a priceless gift, bestowed out of everlasting love.”

How about YOU? Have you read any YA books lately?

Blog Stops

May 2: Lighthouse Academy

May 2: Inklings and Notions

May 2: Bibliophile Reviews

May 3: God’s Little Bookworm

May 3: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 3: Blogging With Carol

May 4: Faithfully Bookish

May 4: Smiling Book Reviews

May 4: A Greater Yes

May 5: The Fizzy Pop Collection

May 5: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

May 5: Just the Write Escape

May 6: The Scribbler

May 6: Moments Dipped in Ink

May 6: Zerina Blossom’s Books

May 7: cherylbbookblog

May 7: Back Porch Reads

May 7: Jeanette’s Thoughts

May 8: The Artist Librarian

May 8: A Baker’s Perspective

May 8: Book by Book

May 9: A Path of Joy

May 9: Cafinated Reads

May 9: I Hope You Dance

May 10: Kristin’s Book Reviews

May 10: Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot

May 10: Neverending Stories

May 11: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

May 11: Radiant Light

May 11: Karen Sue Hadley

May 12: Pause for Tales

May 12: Just Commonly

May 12: Have A Wonderful Day

May 13: Bigreadersite

May 13: Daysong Reflections

May 13: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

May 14: Book Bites, Bee Sting, & Butterfly Kisses

May 14: The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate

May 14: God1meover

May 15: thewitsabout

May 15: Faithful Acres Body Soul Spirit

May 15: Baker Kella

May 15: Remembrancy

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away all three books in the Noble Knights Series!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b6fc

Happy reading,

Kristin

A Christian Response to “13 Reasons Why”

Wow, ok I had no idea how popular this show was until I started looking around on Goodreads. I have been talking about it with my *adult* friends, but now that I’m aware that a zillion teenagers are watching this show, I feel like I need to let you know why it’s not realistic. I am not talking about the book. Nor will I read the book.

In general, let me say that if you are a Christian, you probably won’t like this show. It’s full of bad words and other things that will make you uncomfortable. But that isn’t my main problem with it. However, I do think that as Christians we should become more educated about sexual abuse and depression. I don’t recommend though that you do so by watching this show.

If you are a teenager that is being teased and peer-pressured to watch this show, I’m going to lay it all out for you so you can talk about the show without actually watching it. Yeah, it’s that bad. There are some scenes I wish I could erase from my memory (and I counsel survivors of sexual abuse). I don’t think you should watch it. And if you still feel like you want to watch it after reading this, don’t watch it without your parents! Parents… if your teen wants to watch this show, watch it with them. Don’t let them watch it alone. Don’t let them deal with issues the show presents alone. Do your job as a parent, and be willing to be uncomfortable for you kid. If you won’t do that, who will?

Does horrible stuff happen to teenagers? Yes. Being a teen was my least favorite phase of life… I was bullied, expected to conform to what boys wanted as a sex image, a lot of junk happened that I would never tolerate now that I know better. People are selfish jerks, but I think you already know that. You don’t need 13 Reasons Why to tell you that.

This post contains so many spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Here is my version of the premise of this show. Hannah Baker is the new girl at school, and after being betrayed repeatedly, sexually assaulted, and ignored by the one adult she reaches out to, she decides to systematically call people out through a system of tapes. She asks a trustworthy person to distribute these tapes from beyond the grave. The show starts with Clay Jensen, the only guy who doesn’t deserve to be on the tapes, getting them. He isn’t sure how many other people have listened. You find out through the tapes that pretty much every teenager that Hannah trust or tried to be friends with made her life even more hellish. She gets betrayed so, so many times. Then something beyond horrible happens to her, she gets raped, by someone she watched rape her friend earlier. In the end she goes to her counselor and he tells her that maybe she’s just regretting a mistake she made. He also tells her that if she doesn’t want to tell him who committed the crime, there isn’t anything she can do. Hannah goes home, gets dressed in old clothes, and commits suicide by slitting her wrists. Clay exposes Bryce, the rapist, by getting him to admit to the rape on tape, and then leaving the tapes with the school counselor. The show ends with one of the kids who stalked Hannah getting ready to kill everyone who bullied him (he hides a zillion guns in his room and hangs up photos of the people he wants to kill), one of the other boys, Alex (Miles Heizer from Parenthood… one of my favorite shows ever), shoots himself in the head (though he doesn’t die, but is in the hospital), and Clay riding off into the sunset with another alt chick, Skye, his friend Tony, and Tony’s boyfriend.

As a writer, I have to admit that they way the did the POV in this show was awesome. The acting was stunning. But the writing… not accurate. At all.

She Ignored Her Most Obvious Support Group

The first thing I want to point out is that Hannah’s parents were awesome. Why didn’t she tell them anything? There isn’t one single reason why she wouldn’t have been able to talk to them. They were stressed with their store… that wasn’t a compelling reason for her not to tell them she saw someone rape her friend! That wasn’t a compelling reason for her not to tell them that her new “friend” from the poetry club published her very private thoughts for everyone to read. It is so stupid that she never confided anything to them, when they were good parents. They actually cared, and they would have been a great support system for her. In contrast to other characters, like Justin (whose mom was a drug addict whose boyfriend tried to kill Justin at one point), Hannah’s parents rocked. I really feel like this was one of the laziest things a writer could do… let me paint the picture so that the suburban family that cares about each other actually has the teenager that kills themselves. Real life is so much more complex, guys.

Before you start to argue, let me agree that yes, suburbanite teenagers who have caring parents still struggle with suicidal thoughts. I know from personal experience because I was one. But my parents weren’t really in a position to support me more… I believe God saved me by reminding me He loved me, even if no one else seemed to.

But people that struggle with suicidal thoughts don’t plan such elaborate schemes. And suicide doesn’t stop the pain, it only spreads it to your friends and family once you’re gone. It’s like a giant hole in them that never goes away (I’ve known parents of kids who have committed suicide, and it’s horrible, horrible, awful to see that always distant pain in their eyes no matter what is happening).

P.S.She spent all that time on the tapes and never once wrote her parents any kind of suicide note?! Totally unrealistic. Dumb. Annoying.

True Irony

The fact that people are being teased and excluded because they haven’t seen 13 Reasons Why is so ironic it makes me want to throw up. Or scream. Something dramatic because I just can’t even… If you have watched the show at all, you should understand that bullying is wrong. It’s destructive and creates hopeless and isolated people that don’t feel they have any resources. That part of the story they got mostly right (except for her parents, as I noted above). Stop it, okay?

The Counselor

I have seen many people criticize the show for displaying the school counselor as someone that isn’t trust worthy. “Never tell kids not to go to their school counselor,” is a pretty common comment, but I can’t criticize the show on that point for two reasons. First, I did the same thing in my new book, Kerfuffle (coming out June 2017 … for more details sign up for email updates). Second, the way the counselor responded in the show was actually pretty realistic. People often blame the survivor of sexual abuse/assault. The very first thing the counselor does when Hannah tells him she was assaulted is say something like, “Are you sure it wasn’t just a decision you regret?” This is probably one of the worst things you can ask someone who is already dealing with trauma related to sexual abuse because trauma messes with memory. Remember that false reports of sexual abuse make up less than 2% of ALL REPORTS. Then when she says she doesn’t want to press charges he tells her she just has to pretend like it didn’t happen (I’m paraphrasing here). No, no, no! Why didn’t he encourage her to share with her parents so she could get professional help?! *zoom in on me beating the television with my shoe*

We need to have better systems in place for survivors, and that includes better education for school counselors and parents (and pastors… but that’s for another post). I have another blog where there is an entire section dedicated to helping those who have survived abuse in case you’re interested.

Instead of 13 Reasons Why

If you want to talk about the themes in this show without watching it, I suggest going over the lyrics of “Gun For Hands” by twenty one pilots with your kids, parents, friends, whatever.

If you want to watch a show that has the same themes of 13 Reasons Why without the gross misrepresentations of suicidal behavior, you could check out Veronica Mars. I am NOT saying it’s a wholesome show. But it’s definitely less traumatizing than 13 Reasons Why. And also, Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni.

If you have experienced suicidal thoughts, reach out for help! There are people (like me) who understand how you feel and what you’re going through.

(In fact, you can email me right now and I’ll write back as soon as I can kristin.n.spencer[at]gmail.com)

Suicide isn’t the answer. And planning out some way of punishing people that have hurt you and *then* committing suicide definitely isn’t the answer. I think the main bummer about 13 Reasons Why is that is glamorizes suicide (I’m not the only one who thinks this). If you’ve watched the show, in the end, do you think Hannah’s tapes did anything to change the people on them? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

If you want to know more about the only way to find healing, fulfillment, and hope, check this out (spoiler, it’s about Jesus).

A Note to Christians: You don’t even have to watch this show, but the conversations happening around it are a great opportunity to share about the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Happy reading… or viewing…

Kristin

Book Review: A Spring of Weddings by Tony Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell

This is my first every Celebrate Lit blog tour post. Yay! I hope you are as excited as I am.

And they are also giving away a Kindle, so check out that giveaway here.

A Spring of Weddings is collection of two stories about, as I’m sure you guessed, Spring weddings. I don’t normally like Romance books, but there were a few things that made this collection special.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction (Contemporary Christian Romance)

The first story in this collection is “A Proxy Wedding” by Toni Shiloh. This was the first book of hers that I’ve read, though I like her blog. I have to say, the unique premise of this story caught my attention right from the start. I didn’t even know what proxy wedding was, let alone a double proxy wedding. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there were definitely a few surprises in this cute, well planned tale.

Hope Beyond Savannah” is the second part of the collection and was written by Melissa Wardwell. It was also my first time reading anything by this author. It was an interesting story, but in my opinion, things happened so fast without enough time for character development. Maybe it would have been better as a full length novel. I really appreciated the multicultural aspect of this story. I should also mention that if you don’t like to read about lots of kissing and physical affection, this isn’t the story for you. It felt like, “ugh, more kissing,” but as I mentioned before, I don’t really like romances. I still found the story interesting, though. And I felt for the main character, Lily. Poor thing!

Overall I would definitely recommend this book for a quick, entertaining read.

I was given a copy of this book by CelebrateLit Publishing in case I wanted to review it. All opinions are my own.

 

Click here to purchase your copy

About the Book

Book: A Spring of Weddings: A Contemporary Spring Weddings Collection

Authors: Toni Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell,

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: March 30, 2017

A Proxy Wedding

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.

Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?

Hope Beyond Savannah

Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

About the Authors

Toni Shiloh
Melissa Wardwell

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Melissa Wardwell was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.

Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Guest posts from Toni & Melissa

A Proxy Wedding

By Toni Shiloh

Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.

When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine spring time, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.

It. Was. Rough.

It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.

Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.

In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.

I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.

Hope Beyond Savannah

By Melissa Wardwell

I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun, but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.

With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.

My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Blog Stops

April 25: Blossoms and Blessings

April 25: Lighthouse Academy

April 26: A Baker’s Perspective

April 26: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

April 27: Blogging With Carol

April 27: Avid Reader Book Reviews

April 28: Moments Dipped in Ink

April 28: Mary Hake

April 29: Reading Is My SuperPower

April 29: The Power of Words (Spotlight)

April 30: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

April 30: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

May 1: Quiet Quilter

May 1: Kristin N. Spencer

May 2: Kat’s Corner Books

May 2: Karen Sue Hadley

May 3: Books. Books. And More Books.

May 3: History, Mystery & Faith

May 4: Jeanette’s Thoughts

May 4: A Greater Yes

May 5: Carpe Diem

May 5: Christian Bookaholic

May 6: These Splendid Sentences

May 6: Just Jo’Anne

May 7: God is Love

May 7: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 8: Autism mom

May 8: Caffeinated Reads

May 9: Bibliophile Reviews

Giveaway

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a Kindle! Click here to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Happy reading,

Kristin

Victim Shaming Authors – Not Okay

I woke up to a lovely blurb on Goodreads by an author that I’ve read before. She included the publisher’s explanation of why they included dashed out profanity in a non-fiction book. Her purpose in doing this was to leave a strong exhortation that people should not waste their money on this book because such language is an offense to God. Here is the publisher’s note:

“The story you are about to read is true. The events depicted include violent situations and vulgar language of a kind that typically doesn’t appear in books we publish. But after careful consideration, we decided to include some dialogue that, though potentially offensive, is accurate, helps to capture the intensity of the events in an authentic way, and gives a truthful illustration of the human condition.”

Victim Shaming Authors

I left a polite (too polite of a comment, really) challenging this person that Jesus Christ entered into our sufferings. He didn’t tell us what we could and couldn’t share with Him about these sufferings. Jesus Christ has already witnessed the horrible things, including the profane words, that Ruth Everhart experienced while she was held hostage and raped at gunpoint. And to instruct her on how to tell her story is wrong. To admonish other Christians not to read her book because she tells the truth about what happened, including the colorful details we want to wish away, is victim shaming. I absolutely hate victim shaming, and I hate it even more when it happens in the church of Jesus Christ. As Christians we ought to know better.

Here is a link to her book, “Ruined.” I plan to read it. Let me know if you want to read it together 🙂

Here is my question: what about the offense to God of rape? What about the offense to God of the church shaming people for being of loose morals when sexual abuse happens? Yes, I am a witness to such behavior. Though there are some churches that have great support systems in place for survivors of abuse, it is shockingly rare. It is wrong to victim shame authors that feel the need to share in a blunt manner. I think this is especially true when someone is writing non-fiction. I could talk about this topic all day, but I actually have a page on another blog that discusses how we can support survivors in a Christlike way.

Now to get back to editing Kerfuffle, which also deals with not one, but two very sensitive topics that in general Christians don’t want to discuss. Because that’s who I am. That’s what I do. Transverse the bubble with me.

Happy reading,

Kristin

P.S. Here is the synopsis of Ruined, in case you are interested in context.

“It happened on a Sunday night, even though I’d been a good girl and gone to church that morning.”

One brisk November evening during her senior year at a small Midwestern Christian college, two armed intruders broke into the house Ruth Everhart shared with her roommates, held all five girls hostage, and took turns raping them at gunpoint. Reeling with fear, insecurity, and guilt, Ruth believed she was ruined, both physically and in the eyes of God.

In the days and weeks that followed, Ruth struggled to come to grips with not only what happened that night but why. The same questions raced through her mind in an unrelenting loop—questions that would continue to haunt her for years to come:

Why me? Where was God? Why did God allow this to happen? What am I being punished for?

Told with candor and unflinching honesty, Ruined is an extraordinary emotional and spiritual journey that begins with an unspeakable act of violence but ends with tremendous healing and profound spiritual insights about faith, forgiveness, and the will of God.