“Off the Itinerary” — a 3-book series — and a JustRead Blog Tour & Giveaway (ends 8/16/22)

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Welcome to the Blog Tour for Off the Itinerary series by M. Liz Boyle, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Title: Avalanche Series: Off the Itinerary #1 Author: M. Liz Boyle Publisher: Independently Published Release Date: September 26, 2019 Genre: Christian middle-grade/YA, Adventure

“Avalanche surprised me with its depth…a 5-star read…” -For the Love of Literature Five friends. One moonlit summit. An unforgettable journey. Excitement hangs in the air as Marlee and her sisters join their friends on a daring hike up a Colorado mountain – in the middle of the night. When Sawyer first proposes the idea of a moonlit summit during the two families’ annual backpacking trip, Marlee is terrified but also hooked. Having grown up taking trips to the mountains, they’ve learned a thing or two about hiking, and Sawyer is confident they’ll be back by sunrise. But when disaster strikes, their knowledge, faith, and stamina will be put to the test. Digging out of the cemented snow is the first of many challenges in the coming days, and now Marlee has to trust Sawyer, who, by the way, was the brain behind the dilemma. Will their faith and friendship survive, or will they cave under pressure? This engaging journey, told by fifteen-year-old Marlee Stanley, captures a timeless sense of adventure. The five young adults strive to exhibit godly character throughout their escapade, but it will take immense strength to hike out of this mess. “I know that if their journey inspired me, it will certainly inspire others…Boyle has brought YA fans an uplifting, adventurous novel.” -A Baker’s Perspective PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound  

Title: Chased Series: Off the Itinerary #2 Author: M. Liz Boyle Publisher: Independently Published Release Date: June 1, 2020 Genre: Christian middle-grade/YA, Adventure

“Chased would be a great addition to a k-12 Christian school library. Middle schoolers and up will enjoy it.” – Library Lady’s Kid Lit It’s been a year since Marlee, her sisters, and the Miles boys survived an avalanche. Sure, it was a little embarrassing for them when all the neighbors saw them on the news, but they love being outdoors, and what are the odds that another tragedy would strike this adventurous group? Has anyone calculated the statistics of being hit with two natural disasters? It has to be low, so of course the two families planned to backpack again this summer. When the teens first meet Thad, a dehydrated hiker on the trail, they give him water and food and help him recover. He seems harmless until he tells them to hike a few extra miles at sunset. Then Lydie finds a hand-drawn map that Thad dropped, and they discover why he is so eager to get away from the Stanley girls and Miles boys. So eager that he starts chasing them. Now they have to climb up unforgiving ridges, sneak through the night, and – is that thunder and lightning? To make matters worse, Marlee has a nagging worry that her older sister Ellie is preparing to move away from home. What is God’s plan? How will they get away from Thad before it’s too late? “…realistic, exciting, and suspenseful…Chased is the perfect sequel to Avalanche. It’s gripping, suspenseful, entertaining, and, best of all, Christian.” -David M., Beta Reader

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository


Title: Ablaze Series: Off the Itinerary #3 Author: M. Liz Boyle Publisher: Independently Published Release Date: February 25, 2021 Genre: Christian middle-grade/YA, Adventure

“M. Liz Boyle tackles the topic of showering difficult people with grace and forgiveness, making this a must-read for Christian teens. Adventure seekers who loved Avalanche and Chased will fall head-over-heels for the adventure that heats up in Ablaze!” – Author Allyson Kennedy This summer the Stanley sisters and the Miles boys are excited to hike together again, and now they have the unique opportunity to help two of their ranger friends with an outdoor program in the beautiful Montana mountains. Marlee has always considered herself a willing follower. Give her a direction and she’s happy to help. Her older sister Ellie is a natural leader, and Marlee is content in her role as assistant. Marlee and her sisters have been assigned to help with Ranger Rose’s team, and they are savoring the adventure. But in a heartbeat while the group is divided by a few hundred feet, fire breaks out between Ranger Rose and Marlee’s group. In this enthralling finale to the Off the Itinerary series, Marlee must face her fears with courage that only God can provide.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


M. Liz Boyle is an author, the wife of a professional tree climber and the mom of three energetic and laundry-producing children. She received her Associate’s of Arts at the University of Sioux Falls, where she received the LAR Writing Award for her essay entitled, “My Real Life Mufasa.” Liz once spent a summer in Colorado teaching rock climbing, which she believes was a fantastic way to make money and memories. She resides with her family in Wisconsin, where they enjoy hiking and rock climbing. Liz and her husband have also backpacked in Colorado and the Grand Canyon, which have provided inspiration for her writing. She likes making adventurous stories to encourage others to find adventures and expand their comfort zones (though admittedly, she still needs lots of practice expanding her own comfort zone). She has thoroughly enjoyed working on the Off the Itinerary series.

Connect with Liz by visiting mlizboyle.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


(3) winners will receive one Off the Itinerary series book (winner’s choice), book swag, and $15 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight August 9, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on August 16, 2022. US only. Items may vary from image. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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Book excerpts to whet your appetite!

I personally love the YA world of fiction. While during our homeschool years we read a LOT of historical fiction, I was always thrilled when a book came along that captured my boy’s heart and mind. It feels as though there has been a huge surge lately in the YA (or young adult, books written for ages 12-18 and older) genre in terms of publishing. That makes me very happy–and I’m also happy to share some exciting book excerpts from the Off the Itinerary series!

I love the author’s voice and the characters she speaks through. Get ready for some rip-roaring reads–from the POV of teens who love their families and their God, and walk that out in the midst of some crazy adventures!

Book 1: Avalanche

“Full moons come once a month, and this combined-family backpacking trip happens once a year,” Sawyer explained. “My plan is for us to make it to the peak by two, maybe three a.m., and then be back to camp well before our parents wake up. They’ll never even notice we were gone.” He glanced at each of our faces to gauge our reactions. My mind began spinning, imagining the cautionary information Dad and Caleb would have for this idea. 

Hiking at night? Attempting a peak in the dark? It was early June, so the ridges and peaks were still mostly snow covered. During the day, with Dad and Caleb’s expertise, our careful moms close by, and the extensive gear that our dads had, I would not be so hesitant. But sneaking away in the night, just us kids? I almost spoke up, but then Sawyer continued, “I heard Dad and Mr. Forrest talk about it once.” Forrest Stanley is my dad, affectionately called Mr. Forrest by the Miles boys. Sawyer continued, “They did a moonlit summit, and Dad said it was one of his greatest memories. We could have a story like that, too,” he pressed. I too had heard the story of their midnight hike. But they told the guys they were with what they were doing, and besides, they were professional backpacking guides at the time.

In my family, we pray to God. A lot. We pray before meals and trips, and at the start and end of every day. Instinctively, I began praying silently, either for safety or for Sawyer to forget this whole idea. I’ll admit, it sounded cool – make that awesome. Summiting one of Colorado’s fourteeners, a peak over 14,000 feet tall, in the middle of the night during a full moon! What could be better than that? This would be a tough decision. But Sawyer was almost eighteen now, with a respectable amount of backpacking experience considering his age. He was enrolled to attend the Professional Outdoor Guides School at the end of summer. So we practically had a pro leading us. Well, not quite a pro, but I knew he was good for his age.

And I already knew how knowledgeable he was with bears. I’d seen him hike every summer for as long as I could remember, and I could not deny that he was a natural. With him as our guide, the chances of our succeeding were fairly high – I hoped.

Book 2: Chased

“Maybe this is far-fetched,” Ellie slowly said, as if she was afraid to say it, “but what if there’s something wrong at the next campsite where Thad sent us? I mean, he doesn’t want us to be near him, but why? Do you think it’s a coincidence that he said that not everyone you meet in the backcountry is good? What if he’s planning some crime against us, and we’ll hike right into it by following his instructions?”

Sawyer, Lydie, and I nodded thoughtfully, but Marshall spoke up, “Good point, but I think it’s more likely that he’s afraid of us, so he’ll feel better if he knows we’re out of his space. He seemed paranoid when he was asking every detail of our itinerary. Like he thought we were out to get him. And how could he be planning evil against us when he was half-dead only a few hours ago?” Again, we all nodded thoughtfully, considering the unusual situation. Was it paranoia or planned crime? If he really was a criminal, he could have accomplices, and they could still be able to do whatever it was even if Thad was sick. He looked nervous  – was it fear of us hurting him, or of us spoiling his criminal plans?

Book 3: Ablaze

A month ago I would’ve jumped at the chance to help lead OutPro. I would do almost anything for the rangers who rescued us, and this chance was practically a dream come true. But that was before. I really did want to make Ranger Rose proud, but I felt unworthy of her confidence in my ability to lead. I
was so out of my comfort zone, and I was only kidding myself to think I could make the rangers proud and contribute to OutPro. Braelynn and Shelby had shown me that I wasn’t up to leading. I’m just a hot mess – a hot mess who is almost in tears. And how could Ranger Rose be so delusional to think I could be
helpful? I couldn’t stand to see disappointment in her face, so I looked down and scratched a bug bite on my shin. 

Sure, I signed up to help lead. But at this point, I decided OutPro would be better off if I just tagged along. I would participate just enough to stay off the Rangers’ radar, but not so much to be annoying and divisive. Because lately when I try to lead, bad things happen. And in a forest that was reportedly ready to burst into flames, I did not want to be a leader.

I had never given much thought to the well-known fact that heat rises. But as I gaped at the flames racing uphill toward us, greedily devouring the meadow grass, I realized that the rising heat factoid is a really big deal. Braelynn’s slashing words again clouded my thoughts. Sorry to disappoint you, Mrs. Gunderson. I
should never have signed up for this leadership role!

“Marlee, do something!” Reeny shrieked. Sure, let me just unroll the fire hose stashed conveniently in the top of my pack.

I don’t know about you, but each of the situations where the teens find themselves above are ones that really cause my adrenaline to start rolling! And, of course, makes me read even faster to reach the conclusion of the books. I believe you’ll feel the same way!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

“Catching Hope” ~ a JustRead Blog Tour (& giveaway, ends 6/28/22)

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Catching Hope JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Catching Hope by Kathy Cassel, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Catching HopeTitle: Catching Hope Author: Kathy Cassel Publisher: Haven Point Publishing Release Date: March 22, 2022 Genre: Teens/YA, Christian Catching Hope: A pursuit fraught with danger. Newly adopted Lexi Michaels is taking her first real vacation as she, twin brother Levi, adoptive brother Chad, and new cousin Jen head to Haiti where their dad, a pediatrician, will be volunteering in an island clinic. But who is the man who displays such hatred for the Michaels when they arrive at their resort? Is an attempted burglary as random as it appears? Will Jen ever accept the newcomers to the family? When the four teens set out to explore Haiti’s sights and history on their own, an unexpected encounter and natural disaster plunge them into adventure and danger. With their very survival at stake, can the four teens work together, or will Lexi’s dream of a “forever family” end in tragedy? PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub


Kathy Cassel

Kathy Cassel is the author of eleven books for Christian preteens and girls and three Young Adult Fiction books.

Kathy grew up in northern Indiana, lived on three different continents while her husband was in the USAF, and now lives in the Florida Panhandle. She and her husband have eight children, five of whom are adopted, three from Haiti and two from the United States. They also have six grandchildren. Kathy’s favorite activities are those that involve traveling and adventures that include her children and grandchildren. In order to better relate to the characters in her stories, Kathy has done things such as whitewater rafting, certify in scuba diving, and get her motorcycle endorsement. She draws the line at sky diving. CONNECT WITH KATHY: Website | Facebook | Instagram


(2) winners will receive a $25 BAM card gift card!

Catching Hope JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight June 21, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on June 28, 2022. US only. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

About Catching Hope

Truly, reading Catching Hope was a thrill of a ride–along with a breath of fresh air! Cassel created 4 unique teen characters for her YA novel: Lexi and Levi, a girl and boy pair of twins who have literally spent their lives in the foster care system. The pair have been recently adopted by Dr. and Mrs. Michaels. Then, there’s Chad, their new (also adopted) brother. Last, their new cousin Jen, who is extremely unfriendly and devoted to shopping exclusive (read: expensive) boutiques on her vacations.

Levi’s high-functioning autism symptoms are, they believe, the reason the two kept getting moved from home to home and were never adopted. (Until that last home, that they were saved from at the last moment.) Lexi will do anything to defend her brother and she loves him fiercely.

Now, the four have arrived in Haiti. The doctor and his wife help to support a clinic near a resort the family will be staying at, and due to a cholera outbreak, they’ve moved their medical aid trip up and brought the kids and their niece. Little do they know that the family has acquired an enemy–who’ll stop at nothing to bring about his revenge.

My thoughts

I so enjoyed reading Catching Hope! Although I’m not in the target audience of YA books, I do enjoy them from time to time. They provide, as I mentioned above, a bit of fresh air in the eyes of characters who haven’t completely lost their naiveté and the world is often fresh and bright. Now, having said that, I also have to say that here, it’s not completely true. With Levi’s and Lexi’s (who’s the narrator of Catching Hope) years spent in and out of foster homes, they know that life is not always fair, nor the treatment of others, good and right. Jen brings a “rich girl” mentality to the group; to her, a resort vacation should include lots of pampering. But Chad, raised by the Michaels since he was six, has the ability to love, serve, and support others, as well as something special that sets him apart. But, they’ll need all their strength plus the ability to work together for the adventure that none knows is ahead of them.

Cassel dedicates her book to “…all the Haitian children who came home to their forever families in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.” The author clearly has spent time in and loves the nation of Haiti. If you take a peek at her author bio, you can see that she is the mom of 8 children, 3 of them adopted from the island nation (and two more adopted, besides her three biological children). So she is able to utilize her knowledge of foster care, adoption, and the people of Haiti into her story. (Not to mention its landscape, environment, and culture!)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What a fantastic subject matter to enthrall younger readers! Cassel’s adventure story is believable, and so engaging, as are her characters, each of whom brings something interesting to the story. I think that teens and even many tweens will love diving into the life and recent culture not only of Lexi and Levi (and their teen relatives) but the recent history of Haiti. There is some peril and pain; but this story of hope and of overcoming is a must-read for anyone who loves a story of the journey of faith alongside a fantastic adventure story.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.