Cover Reveal: Reintegration by Ashley Bogner

The day is finally here! It is time to reveal the cover for Miss Bogner’s debut novel, Reintegration. I am thrilled to be able to present not only the cover reveal, but also an exclusive interview. Read on below for all the fun stuff…

 

Some backstory:

Ashley Bogner is my Goodreads-virtual-friend-turned-real-life-best-friend. At a writing conference a few years ago, I happened to recognize her name from Goodreads. When I mentioned this to her, it turned out that she was indeed one of my Goodreads friends, and often followed my book reviews! We exchanged contact info, and the rest, as they say, is history. We’ve kept in close contact ever since.  So it was with great excitement that I heard she was venturing out into the publishing realm with her book, Reintegration. As her self-appointed #1 Fan, I can’t wait to share all the fun details!

 

So tell me, Ashley, how excited are you to be publishing your first book? 

I’m so thrilled that it’s happening! It almost doesn’t seem real…

It’s pretty incredible! What led you to self-publish instead of going the traditional route? How has the process been so far?

Actually, I originally tried the traditional route. I had a great agent, but unfortunately, after a couple years I didn’t get a publishing contract. Either my platform was too small or publishers weren’t looking for a dystopian trilogy. I did a lot of research and prayed about it, then decided it was time to self-publish. There’s a lot of great self-publishing options these days and I’m pleased with how it’s all turning out so far.

The process has been a learning curve but a rewarding one. My book is finally going to be published! And other self-published authors are really helpful and supportive. The Goodreads community has encouraged me a lot through this process.

It’s good to hear that there’s support for authors who are making the leap into self-publishing. And now that you’ve gone through the process yourself, perhaps you can join that community to help support and mentor new authors.

My next question is about genre. What made you decide to write a dystopian book? Has there been any special challenges that go along with that genre?

Dystopian fiction is such a deep, thought-provoking genre. Many of the dystopian novels I’ve read dive really deep into the theme, creating a story that starts a discussion. I’d been wanting to write a book that could start a dialogue about how our culture has taken “tolerance” way too far, and dystopian was a perfect genre for that. I also wanted to write a dystopian story from a Biblical worldview with a sense of hope. Too many of them are depressing! 

One of the biggest challenges (for me) with writing dystopian fiction is that world building is so crucial, and world building has always been an area that I’ve struggled with. Dystopian is different from fantasy (the other genre I write) in that it’s speculative fiction, but the setting has to stay very true to the “real world”. It’s an interesting balance between “futuristic” and “realistic”, and a struggle for someone like me who already has to invest a lot of time into world building. I think working on Reintegration has helped me improve that, though! 

World-building is one of my favorite parts of the fantasy/speculative genre. I can’t wait to see how you developed the world in Reintegration!

Is any part of Reintegration inspired by music? What do you like to listen to as you write? How about snacks? Any favorite munchies that get you in the writing mood?

I don’t actually listen to music while I’m in the process of writing. I’m one of those people who focuses way too much on lyrics (even if it’s a song I’ve heard fifty million times) so it distracts me. I do love, however, finding songs that I think go along with whatever book I’m currently writing. For Reintegration, songs by Thousand Foot Krutch, Red, Third Day, For King and Country, and Jonathan Thulin made it to the list.

Anything with chocolate is a good writing snack. 😉

Perhaps your readers can look forward to a Reintegration playlist, then? 😉 And I must agree–chocolate is always a good snack. 

Let’s move into some personal questions. What do you think is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

To write a story you love, not just what you think everyone else will love. If you’re passionate about a story, it’ll show in your writing. It’s better to stay true to who you are as a writer than to copy what’s popular. 

It’s very tempting to try to write the next bestseller. But I think your advice hits the nail on the head. After all, if you aren’t inspired and in love with your own story, your readers won’t be either.

Speaking of bestsellers, what is your favorite Bible verse, chapter, and/or book?

I’ve always loved 1 John. There’s a lot packed in that short letter that has been so encouraging to me. I recently did a study of 2 Timothy, and that’s now one of my favorite Bible books, too.

I enjoy 2 Timothy as well–one of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 4:18.

What are your top 5 favorite books/series?

Top 5? I love so many books, but if I had to narrow it down….

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (This will forever be my all-time favorite)
  2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie (Matched is the first dystopian book I read that I actually enjoyed. I loved that it wasn’t dark and the protagonist was very likable)
  3. The Out of Time Trilogy by Nadine Brandes (I read this series pretty recently and it totally blew me away. Spectacular writing, relatable characters, deep themes…)
  4. Isle of Swords by Wayne Thomas Batson (Batson’s books were some of my favorites growing up, and this one has always stuck with me as his best. A good mix of action, mystery, creepiness, and cheesy humor)
  5. The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Super character-driven sci-fi! My biggest complaint is that I don’t have a sequel)

Some of my favorites are on this list as well! Great minds think alike. 😉

What 2017 book releases are you most excited about? (Besides Reintegration, of course! 😉 ) 

I’m currently reading Unraveling by Sara Ella, which has been at the top of my list! Also on the list is The Knowing by Sharon Cameron (we will totally fangirl together when this comes out) and Silver Rose by Shantelle Hannu. These are earlier releases in the year, but I also want to read The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, Toss by Darcie Gudger, and Alison Henry and the Creatures of Torone by C.J. Darlington.

I can’t wait for The Knowing! And Unraveling actually inspired my next question: Any book crushes? What makes a character swoon-worthy, in your opinion?

It’s rare that I crush on a book character, usually because I’m too busy waiting for them to end up with the main girl. Two guys that I particularly liked though are Solomon from the Out of Time books (he’s so sweet) and Ian from The Host (he had to grow on me, but now I love him).

A swoon-worthy guy is a guy who’s super sweet and loyal and does little things that make me go “awww!” while reading a book. If he has a good sense of humor, that’s also a plus. 🙂

I agree–Solomon is definitely a swoon-worthy character. (Though I will have to say that Jude will always be my favorite. 😉 )

If you were acting in a movie spin-off of a book, what movie would it be, and what character would you play?

Hmmm…I think I would play Thalli from the Anomaly series by Krista McGee. I remember when reading that series I could really relate to how she responded to the events taking place. 

But Anomaly is a good book that deserves a good movie, and my acting skills aren’t good. They better hire someone else if a movie ever happens.

God gives us all different talents. I’m looking forward to seeing the fruition of yours when Reintegration releases!

As fun as it’s been, I’m afraid it’s time to bring our interview to a close. Any last advice, jokes, or comments?

Thanks for interviewing me! I loved these questions! I’m so happy we’re Goodreads-friends-turned-real-life friends. 🙂 

Me too! Thank you for allowing me to interview you!

 

 

Now it’s time to reveal the (gorgeous!) cover of Reintegration, along with a brief synopsis and author bio…

 

 

Reintegration.png (front only).png

A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both.

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?

 

11041545_857277417692275_4578954682834777623_nAuthor 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.

Ashley’s Goodreads Profile             Ashley’s Blog

 

 

Don’t you just love that cover? (I know I do!) I can’t wait to read Reintegration, and find out what Katherine decides! Stay tuned in, because release day is coming soon…

As always, thank you all for reading! Follow my posts to keep in touch for more book reviews, news, and related posts!

Review: Elissa Blue by T.K. Perry

Elissa Blue: Book One of The WingedElissa Blue: Book One of The Winged by T.K. Perry

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The idea behind this book is very intriguing: imagine a world made up entirely of human/butterfly hybrids, with a bit of The Selection madness thrown in. Pretty cool, right? As unique as the concept is, it could have used some more development before going to print. 5 stars for ingenuity, minus 3 for poor development.

The plot meandered hither and yon with no clear direction or message. There was far too much going on, with not enough details to make any of it believable. I’m not totally sure what the point was at times–was the book about Elissa trying to find a husband? Her attempt to grow up? Connect with her family? I’m not sure. I think the message really boiled down to “don’t let your hormones/lust drive your relationship decisions.” A good message for sure, but I don’t think this book was the best way to present that; I was drowning in insta-love, irrational decisions, and love triangles (more like octagons!) in this book, and it drove me crazy. One positive is that the author discouraged premarital sex, and showed some of the consequences it led to. This is very different from mainstream opinion, and I appreciated that the author was willing to go against the grain and present a different view. Another positive was that even though this is marked as a “new adult” book, the author kept the romance(s) fairly clean overall. Nothing explicit here.

It was neat to see how the author included a wide variety of personalities in this book. Again, too many characters led to underdevelopment of nearly all of them, though there were a few that really stood out. Psyche and Holis were fun to read about, though they were supposed to be the “bad” characters. If the author had chosen just one or two of the relationships in this book to flesh out and devote more time to, and dropped most of the others, that would have made a huge difference. One note: I feel like Elissa and Cari switched personalities about a quarter way through the book, and it took me a bit to get settled with the characters again.

The setting was supposed to be more dystopian than fantasy, but we didn’t get to learn a whole lot about the world the book was set in. All we know is a flood caused it to be populated by only human/butterfly hybrids, and some animals. There was a hint of religious persecution, though it wasn’t clear what religion was being persecuted, or if the persecution had recently ended. The characters prayed twice, maybe three times in the entire book, and it wasn’t clear how deeply felt their faith was, or who they were praying to. It felt thrown in to me, and not authentic for the characters. Overall, I’m not sure whether the world-building was good or bad; there was so little of it, I can’t really say either way.

One last comment: I was actually grossed out by some of the stuff in this book: wing birth, pheromone stuff, etc. I get that the author wanted to bring in some authenticity to the human/butterfly crossover, but all the details were kinda disturbing at times.

The gist of my review is this: great idea, ruined by poor development. This book had so much potential; it’s disappointing to see the author didn’t follow through with it. I’m hoping that following books will be better developed, but I can’t say for sure.

Rating: 2 stars

Recommended: No

Content guide:
Language: 0/10 (none that I can recall)
Sexual content: 6/10 (lots of kissing, talk of mating, insta-love/lust, characters’ relationship seems at times more lust than love, almost rape, some nudity)
Violence: 3/10 (injuries, some mildly graphic, hormone-driven fights, etc)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

For more book reviews, or to request your own book to be reviewed by yours truly, visit gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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Review: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

32969235Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

Review:

I was very curious about this book when I saw the title. Though I don’t normally read a lot of sci-fi, I was intrigued by the summary and decided to give this one a try. While I did find it interesting, it didn’t grip me as much as I would have hoped. Also, the book itself ends in a major cliffhanger, so the story feels very much unfinished.

I enjoyed how the author chose to write the future world—with old fashions being recycled, celebs out to cause mischief and gossip, and people constantly searching for the next greatest thing, whether that be the latest wonder drug or a new Hunger Games-style arena fight. It felt very real, and—what was scary—not too far from our own modern world.

In this book, (minor spoiler) the author decided to take on the issue of human trafficking. This is not an easy subject, and makes the book quite a bit heavier than it might have been otherwise. What the author was trying to get across (other than how horrific human trafficking is) wasn’t entirely clear. (end minor spoiler) I’m hoping that I’ll see more of the plot and some of the themes in this book resolved in the next book.

Overall, I’d rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. While The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is unique in its plot, and bold in approaching some heavy topics, it lacks any sense of resolution or completeness, leaving the reader wondering if the characters have any hope at all in their very broken world. This book will appeal most to fans of The Hunger Games and other similar dystopian/sci-fi books.

Recommended for Ages 14 and up

Cultural Elements
Miguel is hispanic. Sofi has Cherokee heritage.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Barely any—a few “What the—” and “WTF” thrown in.

Romance/Sexual Content
Miguel is described as being a player, and it is mentioned that he has slept with many different women. (Part of the back story is that he almost took Sofi’s innocence, but refrained.) Miguel and Sofi strongly desire each other, and remember “the feel of each other’s skin, and lips,” etc. The story features the issue of human trafficking, and hints at sex trafficking as well. Sofi undresses in front of Heller, and later in front of Miguel. It is clear this affects them both, though that was not her intention. Heller is obsessively infatuated with Sofi, and goes to great lengths to “protect” her.

Spiritual Content
The Delonese chant their strange philosophy in a ritual, but it doesn’t seem directed towards a deity. Instead, it seems to glorify their race and technological advances.

Violent Content
The book starts off at the FanFight games, which is a blend between virtual reality and reality. Some of the arena elements attack/harm the players, and some of the injuries are fairly graphic. A violent explosion later takes the lives of many of the players and participants, but no details are given. There are also some minor injuries and a few deaths towards the middle of the book, but these are non-graphic. Towards the end however, a flashback Sofi has of the Delonese prepping her and some other kids for a medical procedure is very graphic and somewhat disturbing.

Drug Content
Some mention of wonder drugs (mostly in a medical context). Miguel serves alcohol at his party to “loosen tongues.”

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Originally posted on The Story Sanctuary on July 5th, 2017

Now Contributing to The Story Sanctuary

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I have some awesome news to share…I am now a contributor for the website The Story Sanctuary! Check it out for book reviews and bookish posts from a Christian worldview. Here’s our mission:

The Story Sanctuary began in 2013 with one simple goal: to provide a place where parents and readers could find information about past and current books and what potential triggers (profanity, violence, sexual situations, etc.) those stories contain. We talk about the stories and explore the type of content in them to help you make informed decisions about whether and when you’re ready to read a particular book or series.

Every month you’ll find between twelve and sixteen book reviews as well as occasional author interviews, excerpts, giveaways, top ten lists and other bookish posts. Books reviewed are featured in a review post as well as a monthly recap post including buy links and a short synopsis of the review. The Story Sanctuary sees 3,000 page views and 1,000 visitors in an average month. 

I’m super excited to be working with Kasey on the blog, and look forward to seeing my first review (The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber) post on July 5th! For more info, click this link.

I hope you all will check it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks!