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Monday, August 8, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - The Wonderland Trials Author: Sara Ella On Tour with Celebrate Lit

 


About the Book

Book: The Wonderland Trials

Author: Sara Ella

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy / Alice in Wonderland retelling

Release date: July 12, 2022


Solve the clues. Face your fears. Survive the Trials.

All Alice Liddell wants is to escape her Normal life in Oxford and find the parents who abandoned her ten years ago. But she gets more than she bargained for when her older sister Charlotte is arrested for having the infamous Wonder Gene—the key to unlocking the curious Wonderland Reality.

Soon, Alice receives a rather cryptic invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Now she has less than twenty-four hours to find her way into Wonderland where nothing is impossible . . . or what it seems.

The stakes are raised when she discovers players go missing during the Trials each year. Will she and her team solve the clues and find the missing players? Or will betrayal and distrust win, leaving Alice alone in a world of her own? Follow the White Rabbit into this topsy-turvy fantasy where players become prey, a sip of the wrong tea might as well be poison, and a queen’s ways do not always lead one where they ought to go.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author


Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle. Now she spends her days homeschooling her three Jedi in training, braving the Arizona summers, and reminding her superhero husband that it’s almost Christmas (even if it’s only January). When she’s not writing, Sara might be found behind her camera lens or planning her next adventure in the great wide somewhere. She is a Hufflepuff who finds joy in the simplicity of sipping a lavender white mocha and singing Disney tunes in the car. Sara is the author of the Unblemished trilogy and Coral, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid that focuses on mental health. Her latest journey into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like coming full circle after her time spent chasing the White Rabbit around Walt Disney World. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she still believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.” Connect with her online at SaraElla.com or find her on Instagram at @saraellawrites.

 

More from Sara

Welcome to Wonderland!

When I started this journey down the rabbit hole, I had no idea where it would lead me. From switching publishers to signing a book contract during a pandemic, this writing journey has certainly been an adventure for the books!

As with every story I write, life handed me a few trials along the way with this one. I didn’t know how it would end until a few weeks before deadline. With that time crunch came an epiphany that altered a good portion of the plot—an idea that had me scrambling to rewrite entire scenes right up until the final hours before I turned the story in to my editor. It was difficult, but the book is better for it—I am better for it.

It could be said that an author shapes the story, but I personally believe it’s equally true that the story shapes the author. Every book I have written has changed me in some way. With The Wonderland Trials, I can pinpoint three takeaways that helped me grow in ways I never expected.

I learned to not take life so seriously.

We all have to do the adulting thing. We have bills to pay and homes to clean and deadlines to meet. But in the midst of all that chaos and craziness is a time to laugh. To play. To make a mess on the living room floor building Legos with my toddler or take a walk to the park.

I found myself often rushing through time with friends because I had to write or work or check more boxes off my task list. But feeling stressed and cutting friend and family time short didn’t accomplish anything. It didn’t get my book written faster. I’m not saying to put things off that need to be done—it’s important to be responsible. I am saying I learned that I have to balance work and play, and most importantly, I need to be present for those in my life.

It’s not only okay to sit back and relax now and again, it’s necessary. I need to let go of the constant to-do list and invest my time in things that bring me joy. That way, when it’s time to sit down and pound the keys, I’m filled and inspired, rather than tired and anxious.

I learned to see the beauty in found family.

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I disagree. As a girl who was raised by a stepdad who has loved me unconditionally as his own from the time I was two, I think there is something truly special about family that you find and make your own.

There have been times I’ve felt jealous of my friends who still have their biological parents around. I lost my mom in 2012 and my birth dad in 2020. I have maybe a handful of blood relatives left. I love them to bits, and I’m so grateful for them! But my family extends beyond the boundaries of blood. When I really think about it, I have family coming out of my ears and then some.

I have besties who became my soul sisters and women who stepped in as moms and grandmas. I have big brothers who would protect me with their lives and nieces and nephews I get to spoil on holidays and birthdays. As Alice says in The Wonderland Trials, “​​Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

I learned to believe in the impossible.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the pessimist in my family. I try to see every worst-case scenario when making a decision. I ask all the what-ifs in the book. I’m like MJ in the Spider-Man movies— “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”

My husband, on the other hand, has the faith of a child. When I’m lacking in faith, he’s there to remind me of all God can do. And God almost always surprises me with how He goes about doing those things. In a world with drive-thrus, mobile bank deposits, food deliveries, and every other form of instant service we can think of, the call to be patient and wait on the Lord is often forgotten.

I want answers now. I want my family member to be healed now. I want the baby we’ve been waiting over a year to adopt now. God can do the impossible, right? So why doesn’t He hurry up and do it already?

Because God is not a vending machine. And just because He chooses not to perform the miracle I want when and how I want it, that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. In fact, it’s the waiting period when God tends to do His best work on me.

More often than not, I am the impossible one, the impossible heart that needs changing. The stubborn clay that needs molding. The cracked tea cup that needs to be fixed and filled with rivers of gold. What I see as impossible to fix or change, God sees as an opportunity to help me grow. So I’ll keep believing in the impossible. After all, God took me, an impossibly helpless sinner, and made me into something new.

 

Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and for giving this little book a chance. Happy reading, Wonders! The impossible awaits!

 

Sincerely,

Sara Ella

My Thoughts

The Wonderland Trials is book one in the Curious Realities series that is written by Sara Ella. This is a Young Adult/Dystopian read. This is the first book that I have read by this author. I would recommend this for middle school and up readers. I read this book with my son, age 11 and he enjoyed it very much. We love the Alice in Wonderland story - so to see it retold with the author's flair. 

The characters in this story are well developed and well written. You felt like you got to know them throughout the story. Alice just wants to find the parents that abandoned her three years ago and escape her normal life. Then when her sister gets arrested she finds herself thrust into very un normal surroundings. She  had received an invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Will Alice be able to complete the game and find those that have gone missing at previous games?

While we are thrust into this alter-world that is filled with a lot of twists and turns - one may think that it's a bit magical. However, the author wrote in Biblical truth in such a way that it fits right into the story. 

My son and I are awaiting book two - this was one we really enjoyed - I believe he has already re-read it on his own. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this story - all thoughts are my own. 


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 30

A Reader’s Brain, July 31

For Him and My Family, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 2

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 3

Inklings and notions, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Live. Love. Read., August 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 10

Wishful Endings, August 11

Blogging With Carol, August 12

Rebecca Tews, August 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a signed Limited Edition Hardcover of The Wonderland Trials, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and $15 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2038e/the-wonderland-trials-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review and Giveaway -Raising Kids Who Care Author: Susy Lee on Tour with Celebrate Lit



About the Book

Book: Raising Kids Who Care

Author: Susy Lee

Genre: Non-fiction: Parenting and Family

Release date: June, 2022


Imagine knowing what your kids care about, having them listen to what you care about, then doing something about it, together!

Communication and connection are the key, and this is exactly what this book allows you to do. It guides you through 40 conversations to have with your kids, ones that really matter.

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, educator or just care about kids and the world they’re growing up in, this book will provide you with rich resources and surprising insights to create that genuine connection.

In our complex world, we need to be aware of looming pitfalls and be intentional in helping kids navigate their way to compassion and wonder, driven by values and purpose. This path of conversations leads to amazing hope.

We all want kids to have happy, loving lives. As a society, we need kids who are also capable of thinking and acting beyond themselves to help others have happy, loving lives too. This book gives you what you’ll need to achieve both.

Inside, you’ll discover:

  • Stories and research to inform your conversations
  • Relationship skills to build empathy (like listening and conflict resolution)
  • How to combat the worrying influences of our culture (like consumerism and technology)
  • How to grow resilience, self-confidence, character, and strength
  • How our kids can solve problems, rather than being brought down by them
  • Thoughts and tips from other parents
  • Advice from caring young adults about what worked for them!

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author


Susy Lee helps families build a strong culture of communication and contribution. Her book ‘Raising Kids Who Care’ is the winner of international prizes from the Best Indie, Royal Dragonfly and Feathered Quill Book Awards.

Majors in psychology and theology, and a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, helped Susy consider how parenting and wealth equity play roles in social cohesion. Her career twirls around the twin themes of social justice and children, including state and national education and consultancy roles with children and families, international aid and development, and advocacy.

Susy is also an engaging presenter who has taught in schools and churches, lectured at universities, and run conference workshops for parents and families.

She lives a bike ride from the beach in Sydney, Australia, dances whenever music plays, and has raised two caring sons with her husband Brian. Susy has created generational change in her family.

 

More from Susy

I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, but I loved watching my children grow up in our church community. They had relationships of all ages and many opportunities to practise caring – things I’d missed.My boys grew to be young men who are kind and faithful, with careers that will contribute to God’s world.

 

In my book I’ve brought together some useful stuff I’ve researched (because I didn’t trust my own broken upbringing), and that I’ve learnt in my ministry with caring Christian organizations. And I’ve made it a resource for families to talk together – kids are amazing when we make time to really listen to them.

 

This book is not just for Christians though. I wrote it for parents who care about growing compassion and generosity in their kids. I wrote for parents who want to protect their kids from the strong cultural forces in our world that would lead kids astray. And I wrote it for parents who want to raise kids who believe they can do something about the problems in the world, not be overwhelmed by them.

 

I also wrote it for grandparents to give to their kids who are now parents – maybe even those who no longer go to church. I wrote it for parents who want to be intentional – maybe because their parents were not. And I wrote it to help churches reach out to parents who need support and encouragement.

 

Just quietly: I want to change the world, one family at a time! I love the vision of the Kingdom of God, and I think that families who know how to communicate well, about all the issues that surround them, will be better equipped to help bring the Kingdom to earth, as it is in heaven.

 

I’m delighted that God has already blessed my work – the book has won several prizes including First Place in The 2022 Christian Indie Awards in the Relationships and Family Category. Many churches have already used the book to run events for families. You can learn more about me and the book on my website: https://www.raisingkidswhocare.info/

My Thoughts

Raising Kids Who Care is a parenting book that is written by Susy Lee. I have four children. They are 24, 21, 11 and 9. I wish I would had this book when the older ones were growing up. It is a resourceful read. I felt there was a good balance of personal experiences and evidence. I felt that it brought up some good topics with my younger two boys. The world we live in is broken and can be dark, and I want my boys to be able to talk to me about anything without fear of my reaction. 

This book made my kids think - it went deeper then the traditional "fine" I will get when I ask how their day was. We utilized this over summer and talked over dinner. I feel that my children and I are closer now then we were before. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own. 

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, July 29

Lights in a Dark World, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 30

Texas Book-aholic, July 31

For Him and My Family, August 1

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 3

deb’s Book Review, August 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 6

Spoken from the Heart, August 7 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, August 7

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 9

Cats in the Cradle Blog, August 10

The Christian Fiction Girl, August 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Susy is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2038b/raising-kids-who-care-celebration-tour-giveaway

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - Vanished Without a Trace Author: Sarah Hamaker On Tour with Celebrate Lit

 

Vanished Without a Trace Kick-Off Package

About the Book

Book: Vanished Without a Trace

Author: Sarah Hamaker

Genre: Romantic Suspence

Release date: June 28, 2022

A missing person case. A new clue. And a fight for survival.

After nine years searching for his missing sister, attorney Henderson Parker uncovers a clue that leads him to Twin Oaks, Virginia—and podcaster Elle Updike investigating the case. Partnering with the journalist is the last thing Henderson wants, until mysterious thugs make multiple attacks on both their lives. Now they’ll have to trust each other…before the suspected kidnappers make them disappear for good.

 

Click here to get you copy!

 

About the Author

Sarah Hamaker loves writing books “where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives.” She’s written romantic suspense novels and nonfiction books, as well as stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes. As a writers coach, her heart is encouraging writers. She’s a member of ACFW; ACFW Virginia Chapter; and Faith, Hope and Love, as well as the president of Capital Christian Writers Fellowship. Her podcast, “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband, four teenagers, a preschool foster child and three cats. Visit her online at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

 

More from Sarah

As a podcaster myself, I’ve listened to many true crime podcasts, such as “Up and Vanished” and “Accused,” so when I was thinking about the plot for Vanished Without a Trace, I decided to have my heroine be a true crime podcaster investigating cold missing persons cases. I also am fascinated by unsolved mysteries, probably because I love history, and have a strong sense of justice—I want those who commit crimes to be caught. Of course, as a Christian, I do rest in the assurance of God as the ultimate and only truly righteous Judge, but I do find myself rooting for cold cases to be solved and criminals brought to justice. Thus the book combines my two of my interests—cold cases and true crime.

 

Personally, I can’t imagine anything more difficult than to have a loved one go missing and never be found or heard from again. The uncertainty of their fate must weigh very heavily on the family members left behind. I wanted to capture some of that with Henderson’s strong desire to find his missing sister, Helena, and reunite her with their mother. He’s seen how much Helena’s absence has taken a toll on their mother’s health and mental well-being, and when he has a chance to chase down the first real lead in years, he jumps at it.

 

Elle’s motives are no less personal than Henderson’s—her own heart aches for these grieving families. Having distant parents, she wants to help families heal by discovering what happened to a loved one if possible. But Henderson doesn’t trust her motives and the two clash more often than not over her podcast.

 

I hope you enjoy seeing how Elle and Henderson learn to work together to find Helena…and perhaps, their own happy ending.

My Thoughts


Vanished without a Trace is written by Sarah Hamaker. This book starts off with action and does not let up through the whole story. This is a Love Inspired Suspense story. You can count on heart pounding action, minimal descriptions of violence and suspense so tense you can cut it with a knife.

Henderson Parker has never given up hope that his sister was still out there somewhere. He sees a picture in a Twin Oaks newspaper and heads to Virginia to check it out. Elle Updike is the host of Gone without a Trace podcast. The podcast focuses on finding missing people. Their first meeting does not go the way that Elle had planned, but they both realize they need each other.... to stay alive.

Someone does NOT want Henderson exploring leads and will stop at nothing to stop them. It seemed like every way they turned someone was trying to make sure they were eliminated. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story. There is not a lot of times where your heart can return to normal rhythm.

The book is well written. The characters are well developed. The storyline is engaging, action packed and unique. I absolutely love the Love Inspired Suspense books.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit  for allowing me to read a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 25

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, July 25

Bizwings Blog, July 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 27

Through the Fire Blogs, July 27

Betti Mace, July 28

For the Love of Literature, July 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 29

Pause for Tales, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 30

Inklings and notions, July 31

Genesis 5020, August 1

Bigreadersite, August 1

For Him and My Family, August 2

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 3

Livin’ Lit, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 5

Paula’s Persuasion, August 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 6

Blogging With Carol, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away the grand prize package of a Vanished Without a Trace branded tote bag, Vanished Without a Trace pin, a print copy of the book, plus a $75 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1ffe1/vanished-without-a-trace-celebration-tour-giveaway

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - Off the Chain written by Janice Thompson -- On Tour with Celebrate Lit

 



About the Book

Book: Off the Chain

Author: Janice Thompson

Genre: Christian Fiction / Mystery

Release date: July 1, 2022


The Town of Brenham, Texas, Has Gone to the Dogs!

Curl up with your pup and sink into a delightful small-town mystery as riddles and rescues stack up in book one of a new cozy mystery series.

Marigold Evans’ first attempt at rescuing an abandoned pooch lands her in a drainage pipe in Brenham Texas. . .and almost in jail, until Parker Jenson comes to her rescue. Then a bad day only gets worse as the Lone Star Vet Clinic, where they both work, is vandalized and the list of suspects starts to climb. With the help of her fellow employees, Marigold sets out to simultaneously solve the crime, rehab the rescued dog, and help more dogs in crisis. But why would anyone continue to work against all their good efforts?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Janice Thompson, who lives in the Houston area, writes romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, nonfiction devotionals, and musical comedies for the stage. She is the mother of four daughters and nine feisty grandchildren. When she’s not writing books or taking care of foster dogs you’ll find her in the kitchen, baking up specialty cakes and cookies.

 

More from Janice

Dogs, dogs, and more dogs! My world is full of dogs. If you follow me on social media you’re probably overwhelmed with dog photos, but I simply can’t help myself. I’m in love with pooches of all shapes and sizes.

My fascination with dogs began when I was six years old and I got my first pup, Spunky. He was a mixed breed terrier. From that day until now I’ve had the pleasure of owning many, many pups—some purebreds, some street dogs that needed a safe place to stay, some elderly with chronic or acute health issues. I can’t get enough. They offer unconditional love, after all!

A few years back I was asked to foster for a local rescue, My Chi and Me. The rest, as they say, is history. For a quick glimpse at some photos, follow this link. You’ll see that I’m mostly enamored with small dogs. (Hey, I live in a tiny townhome and have limited space!) That said, I’m always willing to take on one more.

My most recent rescue ventures landed me squarely in the middle of a book idea: Why not use a dog story as the basis for a cozy mystery? My editor at Barbour Publishing wanted something dog-themed and I was happy to oblige. That’s where the idea for Off the Chain (and the whole Gone with the Dogs series) came from—a simple idea involving dogs and crime.

I took the opportunity to focus solely on rescue dogs as the idea developed. These days (especially post-Covid) the need for homes for these pups is great. I linked arms with my BFF, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and together we set our series in Brenham Texas, not far from our stomping ground in the Woodlands. I felt strongly that we should merge two separate dog worlds: rescue and veterinary. (Hey, Brenham is close to A&M and they know a thing or two about veterinary training!)

Thus, the Gone with the Dogs series was born. And writing the first book, (Off the Chain), was a blast! I hyper-focused on one primary point of view character, a vet tech. (As the owner of three dogs I feel like I’m always in the vet’s office!) My stories, which is written in first person, took me back to my writing roots. I love, love, love writing in first person because I “become” the character. Fun, right?

My editors loved the book and it got some fun endorsements, so I’m excited to see what my readers think. I can’t wait to get their feedback. I hope it’s not too “Ruff!”

But, seriously. . .I’m hyped! And I’m feeling so blessed to merge my worlds—dogs and writing!


My Thoughts

Off the Chain is a Christian Fiction/Mystery book that is written by Janice Thompson. This is book one in the Gone to the Dogs series. I think this might be the first book that I have read by this author. I enjoyed this story so much. It had me laughing and left me guessing. 

Marigold is a vet tech at the Lone Star Vet Clinic. She has always had a passion for dogs. The book starts out with her in a drain pipe, attempting a  rescue. She does not seem to have the best of luck. This leads to Marigold and Cassidy in the back of a police car with a stinky, smelly pup.  This occurs on the same night someone damages the clinic and EVERYONE becomes a suspect. The list includes: The grumpy neighbor behind the clinic, the grieving pet owner, an employee's ex boyfriend and the owner's former college friend. 

Marigold has dreams of opening her own rescue. When the Texas town gets wind of the drain pipe puppy's rescue they start calling. I love that she had some great workers, especially Parker and Cassidy. However with the damage to the vet clinic Marigold finds herself in some sticky situations. 

While there is a lot of characters in this story, the author did a great job with balancing them all out. I enjoyed getting to know all of the employees. They were like a close knit family. I cannot wait to read the next book. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book --- all thoughts are my own. 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 26

Texas Book-aholic, July 27

The Book Club Network, July 27

An Author’s Take, July 28

Remembrancy, July 28

deb’s Book Review, July 29

Pause for Tales, July 29

The Avid Reader, July 30

For Him and My Family, July 30

Christina’s Corner, July 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 31

Inklings and notions, August 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 3

She Lives To Read, August 3

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 4

Blogging With Carol, August 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 6

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 7 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, August 7

Labor Not in Vain, August 8

Books I’ve Read, August 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Janice is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a paper copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1ffe2/off-the-chain-celebration-tour-giveaway