Friday, August 12, 2022

The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella (The Curious Realities Book 1)

 

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!

 My Review:

A huge ride of many things, that's this book. It's trials and Wonderland, and I've not been a huge Alice fan. I have always liked it but wasn't so much "whooo it's Alice in Wonderland" kind of person. That would be until this book, mixed with the original, came about. 

This is a fantastic blend that tops movies I have seen, other books I have read. Frankly, it's just - stunning. It's a rabbit hole worth diving down. My hat is off to the author, and not just the mad hatter, for creating such a massive accomplishment.

Now, about leaving me grinning like a Cheshire Cat and waiting like an impatient Red Queen for the next book in this series; that's a different story. For this book, it can't be less than five stars and a now endearing take of a usually beloved classic that's now alive again with much more than it had before. I think even Carroll would have loved this adaptation of his work. 

5 Stars

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

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


Monday, August 8, 2022

Not Dead Yet by Traci Hunter Abramson (Guardian, #6)

 

About the Book

Book: Not Dead Yet

Author: Traci Hunter Abramson

Genre: Suspense

Release date: June 13, 2022

Cassidy Edgemont has been dead for four years. At least, that is what the world has been led to believe. After becoming unwittingly entangled in a group called the Coalition, known for using fake news to generate political unrest in the United States, Cas was offered a devastating choice: stage her own death and join her rescuers, the guardians, or risk the wrath of the organization she betrayed. She chose death.

As an invisible government operative, Cas has been living in Paris with no complications—until her family pays an unexpected visit to the European city, changing everything. They think Cas is dead, and she has to keep it that way. But when a bomb is detonated nearby and fake news incites riots in the city, Cas recognizes the mark of the Coalition.

Donovan, a fellow guardian, is summoned to join her in Paris to attempt to untangle the intricate web linking Cas’s past with the recent bombings. But as the threat level escalates, Cas must again make an impossible decision: face possible exposure to her family in her race to uncover the truth or risk the loss of innocent lives.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review: 

Cas is a "ghost". She legally dead, for four years now, however she's very much alive in person and working hard with the Guardians. The suspense and action are non-stop, and the clean romance is well worked into the story. It has a tendency to remind me of some famous movies I really like, so that aspect is very much in favor for me with this book. Faith isn't tossed out while the terrorist and security risks and fast paced story are easily able to sweep me away. Cas and Donovan were a great team and a good couple who have gone to amazing lengths for all the right reasons. 

5 Stars

About the Author

Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas for suspense novels as well as the skills needed to survive her children’s teenage years. She has gone on to write a number of bestselling suspense novels that have consistently been nominated as Whitney Award finalists. She considers shoes an optional accessory which became evident when she won her first three Whitney Awards in 2013 (Code Word), 2014 (Deep Cover), and 2016 (Failsafe.) Safe House won Whitney Awards for both the mystery/suspense category as well as 2017 Adult Novel of the Year. She added two additional awards in 2019 (Mistaken Reality – best mystery/suspense and Sanctuary – Adult Novel of the Year.) She currently lives in Virginia with her family where she enjoys sports, travel, writing, and coaching high school swimming. 

 

More from Traci

Paris anyone? After years of restricted travel and various COVID-related challenges, I needed to spend some time back in a city I love, even if it was only as part of my fictional world. Add in my years working with the CIA, and Not Dead Yet was born.

While Not Dead Yet is technically the sixth book in the guardian series, all of these books are written as stand-alone novels, which simply visit some characters from previous novels and sometimes introduce characters that will be featured in the stories to come.

Not Dead Yet was particularly enjoyable to write, not only because it gave me an excuse to revisit my photos and memories from my most recent trips to Paris, but also because of the parallels that naturally occurred with my own life.

Cas, the main character, is the first female guardian in my fictional top-secret program of government operatives who strive to serve and protect U.S. intelligence and military personnel. When I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, I often attended meetings in which I was the only woman in the room. Respect and loyalty had to be earned regardless of gender, and I was fortunate to work with some amazing individuals over the years. Some of those treasured work relationships come through within the pages of this book.

Another similarity to my own background is Cas’s family dynamics. She has her parents and a younger sister, which mirrors my own early childhood. Her family is often in the public eye because of their association with the media industry. While I didn’t come from the extreme wealth and fame as my character did, I do remember well what it was like to have a mom on television (The Home Hunter in Phoenix, AZ) and to have a sister working in the entertainment industry. While my sister (Tiffany Hunter) has taken over The Home Hunter in recent years, a few of her earlier positions included serving as the backstage coordinator for the Grammys as well as working as Bill Murray’s personal assistant.

Not Dead Yet blends many experiences from my past with the events of the present and the ever-present question of What if? I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 4

Inklings and notions, August 5

EmpowerMoms, August 5

For Him and My Family, August 6

Cathe Swanson, August 6

Texas Book-aholic, August 7

Blogging With Carol, August 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 8

Betti Mace, August 9

Wishful Endings, August 9

deb’s Book Review, August 10

Inside the Wong Mind, August 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 12

Holly’s Book Corner, August 12

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 13

Mary Hake, August 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 14

The Book Club Network, August 14

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 15 (Author Interview)

Dee S. White, August 15

CarpeDiem, August 16

Reading with Emily, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 17

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Traci is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card, Signed Book, Matching bookmark, Matching pin, and Matching stickers!!

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/2070b/not-dead-yet-celebration-tour-giveaway


Restored Grace by Kathleen J. Robinson (Bay Town Book 2)

About the Book

Book: Restored Grace

Author: Kathleen J. Robison

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 21, 2022

They promised Jesus would be with her through everything, but is that enough?

Free-spirited vintage thrift shop owner, Carol Scape, wallowed in grief after her boyfriend’s murder. However, with newfound faith, she’s finding out what it means to die-to-self and put others first. Even if it could cost her life.

Carol is on a mission to save a runaway teen and an at-risk girl from Will Boudreaux, the man just released from jail for running a prostitution ring. The same man who previously terrorized Bay Town residents. Can’t the town get a break? Can’t she?

She’s up for the challenge, but when sparks ignite between her and the town mayor, it muddles things. Having sworn off men, he’s getting in the way of what she feels she must do. Or is he?

Restored Grace is the second book of the Bay Town Series, continuing one year after Shattered Guilt. It’s a stand-alone, amped-up, romantic suspense. Buckle your seat belt. You’re in for a ride.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review:

This book pulled me for several reasons, not the least of which is the main character and I have a few things in common. I really liked her, and the depth to which the author went to show "real" lives being impacted by real events. It's the second book in this series. This story focuses on human trafficking, with a lot of compassion and real world handling of this, while at the same time not being too graphic or overwhelming to most readers. Carol battles her past as she works to have a good future and see the plans that God has in store for her. A a baby Christian that is a challenge, especially in the middle of a lot of action and suspense, and drama as her life unfolds. 

4 Stars 

About the Author

Kathleen J. Robison is an Okinawan-American, born in Okinawa, and raised in California, Florida, Mississippi, and Singapore. Her travels and her family are the sources of her inspiration for her books. Kathleen and her Pastor husband have eight adult children. Seven are married, blessing them with eighteen grandchildren and counting. Her ethnically diverse background extends to her family of currently thirty-five personalities which provide many opportunities to share God’s amazing love amidst the challenges of real life.

 

More from Kathleen

I love writing inspirational romantic suspense featuring heroic women. In Restored Grace, Carol Scape embodies my efforts. She’s impulsive, she’s wild, she’s crazy…and she’s back. With a newfound faith in Christ, she tackles the bad guy with a style all her own.

 

The main character in Restored Grace is a favorite of mine. In fact, I brought her back from Book One because my Library Critique Group loved her so much. When I read a chapter from Shattered Guilt, where Carol plays a minor role, the Branch Manager Librarian laughed and quipped, “I know women just like her, and you nailed her perfectly!”

 

Perhaps in some ways, I secretly (I guess it’s not a secret now) wish I was her. Impulsive, the life of the party, indifferent to what people think about her, and confident in her skin. Carol is 50ish, pleasantly curvy, a boho-chic hippie with long wavy, graying, red hair that constantly tangles in her arms, and others because she moves so quickly. She wears lots of loud, jingly jewelry, and always puts on her prettiest face (with light makeup but tempted to use a heavy hand). And I love her fashion style. Colorful swirling, tiered skirts, cowboy boots, peasant tops, and fringed shawls. If I was taller, I’d love to carry that off, so I let my alter ego, Carol Scape do it for me.

 

Yet, in some ways, women like her used to drive me crazy. They walk into a room, and in minutes their larger-than-life personalities can’t help but draw attention. But I’m so thankful the Lord has humbled me, and if someone drives me crazy … I look at myself and see what I need to work on. Still, call it envy, expectations, or too much energy, but people like her exist, don’t they? And we must admit, they’re a lot of fun. Are you a Carol, or do you know a Carol? Either way, we’re called to love everyone. And the most important thing is caring about all people enough to be concerned for their eternity. I don’t mean judging, but sharing, encouraging, and pointing them to Jesus, whoever they may be and wherever they are in their walk.

 

Three particular things that I hope you’ll identify in the new Carol are her struggle with God’s grace, her selfless desire to help others, and her discovered confidence in Christ. The beauty of writing inspirational romantic suspense is bringing to life how real people, with real problems, struggle with their faith just like us, as we trust that the victory belongs to the Lord.

 

I hope you enjoy reading Restored Grace, and I hope you’re encouraged and inspired to receive and extend the precious grace of our Savior, Jesus, to all those whom God puts in your path…much like Carol.

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reder, July 27

Blossoms and Blessings, July 28 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 28

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

For Him and My Family, July 31

A Baker’s Perspective, August 1 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 2

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 3

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 7

Blogging With Carol, August 8

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 9 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and 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/20388/restored-grace-celebration-tour-giveaway


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Vanished Without a Trace by Sarah Hamaker

 

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!

My Review:

Disappearing is scary. It's also a puzzle that we want to be solved. After nine long years, Henderson has a lead for his missing sister. Teamed up with Elle, will he finally get answers to his sisters mysterious disappearance? I found this book to be fast paced, with just the right amount of romance. It has faith elements, and everything I'd expect from this line of books. I did wish I'd read the other book in the series first, but I loved this one just the same and I wasn't lost, just felt like I missed out a little. 

5 Stars 


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.

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