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

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

Flummoxed is Live!

Dear Awesome People,

I implore you to consider my new book, Flummoxed, for your reading consideration. Today is launch day, and that means that in various corners of the inter web, people are learning about my new book for the first time. Maybe you are part of that group. Welcome! I can’t wait to hear what you think about Olive and her unique group of crazy, fun friends. Maybe you’re part of another group, and you’ve been waiting for the second book to arrive after devouring Newfangled. I can’t put into words how happy you people make me. Please accept my digital hug. *Hug*

Flummoxed was actually my husband’s idea, and as usual, when he’s sure he is right about something, he slowly pushes until I acknowledge that he has a point. I was getting ready to write Kerfuffle (the third book in the Decisions & Desires series… coming later this year) and he said, “I think there is another story in between Newfangled and Kerfuffle… you know, before Olive starts high school. Like, what happens with Dean? And how do things change for Olive once she’s more adjusted at school?” Those were both awesome questions that needed to be answered, and writing a vague recap at the beginning of Kerfuffle didn’t do justice to the answers. Hence book #2… Flummoxed: the completely unplanned addition to the Desires & Decisions series.

This book deals with one of the most fundamental and defining questions in every human being’s life; what does love mean? Olive tries to balance what she knows about the Bible with what she sees the Christians doing around her, but doesn’t come to any easy conclusions. As Olive works to figure all that out, she realizes that maybe a few of the other characters could use those answers, too.

For a full synopsis and description of my creative writing process for Flummoxed, please check out this awesome video that my husband made.

I hope you love reading Flummoxed as much as I loved writing it.

Happy reading,

Kristin N. Spencer

When Characters Don’t Behave

One of the topics that comes up a lot at writing meetings is that wayward character. The one that doesn’t end up being anything like they were when they were still just an idea floating in your head, before your birthed them onto paper. I’m almost finished writing the first draft of “Kerfuffle,” the third book in the Desires & Decisions series, and one of the characters is ruining everything.

When Characters Don’t Behave

Chance was supposed to be kind of a red herring. He sits next to Olive in Spanish, and helps her through a few difficult moments, but the more I wrote his character, the more I started to think, “Oh no, I like him better than Dean.” The way I wrote the first two books in the series, you aren’t supposed to like any other boy for Olive, and so far, that has been working. The emails, comments, and feedback I got all included Dean.

“Is Olive going to end up with Dean?”

“Is Dean going to get saved?”

“Dean is such a nice boy.” (This one came from an older reader)

But Chance, as I said, is ruining everything. He’s too nice and considerate. And he’s funny. He isn’t overly mature like Dean (which I always found to be Dean’s most irritating quality). Chance is the kind of guy that us mothers would want our teenage daughters to like.

Imagine he has black hair, and this is Chance…

This is when things get tricky. As a writer, I have the next three books for the Desires & Decisions series plotted (they will be about Holly [Pastor Lance’s wife], Olive, and Anna), but now I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t reconsider a few things. I can do that, because I’m the creator of this world.

I know that no matter what I do, there will be some people that are disappointed. I also know that there will definitely be #teamdean and #teamchance after this third book comes out. The way “Kerfuffle” ends, I won’t have to decide, but in the next Olive book, “Resplendent,” the decision has to happen pretty much right away. But that book isn’t on my writing schedule this year, so I have time to think.

I can’t wait for you to read what happens between Dean and Olive in “Flummoxed,” coming out on March 28th.

Happy reading,

Kristin