Monday, October 2, 2023

Sara Ella: The Looking Glass Illusion

By Kelly Bridgewater

Step through the looking glass. Slay the Jabberwock. Seek the King.
Alice is not prepared to face what awaits beyond the Tulgey Wood. When she and the rest of Team Heart enter the fourth and final Wonderland Trial, it’s up to her to lead them to victory. But this Trial is more than a game. If Alice and the others fail to defeat the Jabberwock and reveal the truth about Wonderland, more than points and fame will be lost.
Chess Shire never believed he’d make it this far. Now he’s stuck navigating a Trial he’s seen but doesn’t remember, all while searching for the brother he left behind. Not everything is as black and white as the game that shares his name. And if Alice discovers his deepest regret? Chess might just lose her too.
Apart, Chess and Alice scour the eight squares of the Heart Trial in search of memories, truth, and an Ivory King who seems more illusion than reality. Will they learn to lead together to face their greatest fears? Or will they remain pawns in a queen’s game, never truly seeing the Wonderland they’ve come to believe in?


My Thoughts:

The Looking Glass Illusion by Sara Ella needs to be read right in a row with The Wonderland Trials. Since both books are now out, this can be done. I’m always amazed at fantasy writers. When they craft a story, they have to make the setting relatable, but quirky enough that the readers wants to stay invested in the setting. Ella did a fabulous job at this. I wanted to visit Wonderland. I have always wanted to visit London, so it was nice to see both realities kind of coincide with each other. I love how descriptive she was with the setting. Odd things happen, which is what readers come to expect when they read an Alice in Wonderland type story. As for the heroine, Alice, Ace, or A, depends on who is talking about the character, she is strong, and determined. With The Looking Glass Illusion, readers are given more of the history of Alice’s past and Wonderland’s past. Nicely done. The plot kept my attention, and I could not wait to see how they would actually defeat the Heart Trial. The romance between Chase and Alice I could totally believe since they were young, and it was easy to fall for the “bad” guy in the Normal world. If fans really love reading Alice in Wonderland type stories, I also recommend Tabitha Bouldin’s Madness in Wonderland and Lost In Wonderland. Wonderful stories too. Also, how about the covers on Ella’s stories. BEAUTIFUL. I can’t wait to own hardback copies of these books and put them on my shelf. They are wonderfully done. Overall, The Looking Glass Illusion by Sara Ella is a wonderful fantasy story that I know I will want to come back and read again later. Highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of The Looking Glass Illusion by Sara Ella from Enclave Publishing through Celebrate Lit Tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Looking Glass Illusion

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). 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 The Wonderland Trials feels like coming full circle after working for Disney. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”


More from Sara

“Step through the looking glass. Slay the Jabberwock. Seek the King.”

It’s my tagline for The Looking-Glass Illusion, but in truth, I had no idea what those words truly meant until I wrote the ending (and rewrote it several times).

I didn’t fully understand what the looking glass did or did not do—only that Alice had to step through it.

I didn’t know who or what the Jabberwock really was—only that Team Heart had to overcome it.

And I really couldn’t quite figure out this Ivory King character I had introduced in The Wonderland Trials—only that he was real, and that, somehow, the King would reveal himself in the end.

This is my process and it’s rather frustrating not to know what you’re up against. I wish I could outline and have all the answers ahead of time. I wish I knew every intricate detail about my stories. It would certainly make the writing life a lot easier. But I like to think the not-knowing part is God’s way of keeping me humble in all of this. Because I only discover the story and the true underlying theme of it all when He decides to reveal it to me.

So, in the name of revealing things, here are three truths God showed me through the process of writing The Looking-Glass Illusion.

  1. Faith is not blind.

I think we can all remember the quote from The Santa Clause with Tim Allen that goes, “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” It encompasses the idea that we don’t have to see in order to believe. And while I believe this is true, I also think if we say our faith is blind, we’ve missed the mark.

God gives us every tool we need to base our faith on the truth in the Bible. He doesn’t ask us to walk blindly. He’s given us sight in His Word! And while we don’t know or see everything yet, we do have concrete evidence to stand on that what the Bible says is real.

In The Looking-Glass Illusion, Alice steps through the looking glass not knowing what awaits her on the other side. She does know, however, that The Adventurer’s Almanac her sister gave her has never steered her wrong. It’s guided her along the way, and she holds fast to it as she steps into the unknown.

I didn’t know how this book would end. But I do know that time and time again, God has walked with me through every ending to every book I’ve written. When I hold fast to that truth, I can have faith and the courage to move forward rather than let fear get the better of me. And speaking of fear . . .

  1. Fear is a liar.Anyone who’s listened to Christian radio has probably heard the popular song “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams. It’s a great song and I think we all need to hear it from time to time. Alice and her team have a multitude of fears to overcome. Chess Shire in particular has to overcome his fear of facing his past. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t read it, but the theme of overcoming fear is an overarching one in this duology. Perhaps I could have made it more complex and profound, but it’s really quite simple:Fear is a liar. And the only way to combat lies is to stand on the truth of what we know is real because . . .
  2. The fairy tale is real.I am often asked why I choose to write fairy-tale-inspired stories. I like to turn back to my author tagline. While my logo and website design and even my bio have changed over the years, my tagline has remained the same:“Happily Ever After is Never Far Away”This is something I have held to from the onset of my author journey. While fairy tales may be but stories, our walk as Christians is in the living breathing fairy tale of God’s Word. Remember that quote from “The Princess Bride?”“Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!”

    That line always reminds me of the Bible. Everything we love about fairy tales can be found within the pages of His #1 Best-Selling Book. And it all really happened! The fairy tale is real, and no matter what dragons (or Jabberwocks) we face in this life, we are promised happily ever after (dare I say, Wonderland?) in the next.


    Thank you for taking the time to sit a while with me and for sticking with this series through its conclusion. Cheers, and happy reading, Wonders! The true Wonderland awaits!


Sara Ella

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 30

Texas Book-aholic, October 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 2

Where Faith and Books Meet, October 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 3

Blogging With Carol, October 4

The Book Club Network, October 5

Becca Hope: Book Obsessed, October 5

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

Live. Love. Read., October 7

Holly’s book Corner, October 8

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 9

Raining Butterfly Kisses, October 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 11

Simple Harvest Reads, October 12 (Guest Review from Mindy)

Books You Can Feel Good About, October 13

Wishful Endings, October 13


To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $15 Starbucks gift card, and a hardcover 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.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Tribute for Colorado Avalanche

 By Kelly Bridgewater

My favorite sport is Hockey.

My favorite team is the Colorado Avalanche.

As a girl who grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, hockey is not really popular at all.

Basketball and Football.

Yuck! I don’t really count them sports.

During the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, it was the Colorado Avalanche vs. Florida Panther. Colorado Avalanche was the underdog with their second year as a team. I rooted for them, and they won the Stanley cup.

I have followed them every year since then. I fell I love with this teams strength and endurance. Some of my favorite players have played on this team. My favorite captain: Joe Sakic. Peter Forsberg. My ultimate favorite hockey player, the goalie, #33, Patrick Roy. (I have his jersey!)

Now, we have a team that is doing awesome things too. I have added another hockey jersey to my collection. #29 Center Nathan McKinnon. Love how this team works well together and scores all the time.

What about you? Any favorite teams? Do you watch hockey? Favorite players?

Monday, September 25, 2023

Carrie Turansky: The Legacy of Longdale Manor

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Two women--a century apart--embark on a journey to healing, faith, forgiveness, and romance.

In 2012, art historian Gwen Morris travels to England's Lake District to appraise the paintings and antiques of an old family friend, hoping to prove herself to her prestigious grandfather. While at Longdale Manor, she meets David Bradford--the owner's handsome grandson--who is desperate to save the crumbling estate by turning it into a luxury hotel. When Gwen stumbles upon a one-hundred-year-old journal and an intricately carved shepherd's staff similar to one in a photo of her parents, she's left searching for answers.

In 1912, after her father's death, Charlotte Harper uncovers a painful family secret she can only confess to her journal. She and her family travel to the Lake District to stay on a sheep farm, hoping eventually to find a home with Charlotte's grandfather at Longdale Manor, but old wounds and bitter regrets make it a difficult challenge. As Charlotte grows closer to shepherd Ian Storey and rebuilds her shattered faith, she must decide whether she will ever trust in love again.


My Thoughts:

The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky features the Lake Country in England. Boy, do I want to travel to London. Turansky does a wonderful job at creating a setting that makes me feel like I am there and feeds my desire to want to visit England even more. With this beautiful setting, Turansky placed two hurting heroines in this serene setting to, hopefully, heal. The plot was original, predictable, yet hauntingly familiar. Turansky has a way of creating such a simple plot and allowing it to flow nicely, inviting the reader to sit and wash away their own struggles. I look forward to Turansky's stories becuase she crafts delightful and unique characters. Her characters, including in this story, jump off the page.While the story does feature Charlotte, an antique historian of artifacts, this thread of the plot appeared to be not that important. I wanted more details of this and how to wrap this up with the Legacy of the Longdale Manor. Charlotte and Gwen both are hurting from their father figures and need to learn to lean own their Heavenly Father. However, the romance between the two time periods was a little unbelievable for me. I wanted more to the romance’s development. Too quick. Not enough of a relationship for me to buy that they were willing to have the happily-ever-after moment together. Overall, The Legacy of Longdale Manor featured hurtful characters who come together to try to find peace and tranquility within the lake country of England. I still enjoy spending time with Turansky's world and story. This story will look beautiful with the rest of her stories on my bookshelf. 

I received a complimentary copy of The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Legacy of Longdale Manor

Friday, September 22, 2023

Welcome Fall!!!!!

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 Here come one of my two favorite seasons!


Love the orange, brown, yellow, and red on all the trees.

Cooler temperature.




Covered Bridge Festival.

Trail rides.



Baking Homemade goodies.


What about you? Have anything that you look forward to?

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Melanie Dobson: The Wings of Poppy Pendleton

By Kelly Bridgewater

In this compelling new time-slip mystery, a little girl goes missing from her family’s castle in the Thousand Islands of New York. Eighty-five years later, a journalist teams up with a woman living on Koster Isle to find out what happened to Poppy, once and for all.

 On the eve of her fifth birthday, Poppy Pendleton is tucked safely in her bed, listening to her parents entertain New York’s gilded society in their Thousand Islands castle; the next morning, she is gone, and her father is found dead in his smoking room.

. Though Chloe Ridell lives in the shadows of Poppy’s castle, now in ruins, she has little interest in the mystery that still captivates tourists and locals alike. She is focused on preserving the island she inherited from her grandparents and reviving their vintage candy shop. Until the day a girl named Emma shows up on Chloe’s doorstep, with few possessions, save a tattered scrapbook that connects her to the Pendleton family. When a reporter arrives at Chloe’s store, asking questions about her grandfather, Chloe decides to help him dig into a past she’d thought best left buried. The haunting truth about Poppy, they soon discover, could save Emma’s life, so Chloe and Logan must work together to investigate exactly what happened long ago on Koster Isle.


My Thoughts:

The Wings of Poppy Pendleton by Melanie Dobson took my breathe away. I love how she creates a pathway that readers might think be the solution to the missing Poppy, but then Dobson threw another twist into the story. I love how "Poppy" has a redemption plotline. The modern, Chloe, character took in a little girl with no question asked. Dobson does a wonderful job at bringing readers into the setting. I would have loved to visit this castle and roam the expansive setting. The hidden passages filled with jewels was never really explored. I would have loved to have seen Chloe stubble across a pathway with many of the jewels left by Amelia. The two timelines mixed and mingled nicely. I kept flipping through the pages of the story. I could not wait to see what happened to Poppy and what this has to do with Chloe. The historical mystery and the contemporary mystery wrapped nicely at the end of the story. I LOVED this story, and I can't wait to have a physical copy on my bookshelf.

I received a complimentary copy of The Wings of Poppy Pendleton by Melanie Dobson from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Wings of Poppy Pendleton

Friday, September 15, 2023

Why Student Loan Debt Should NOT be forgiven

 By Kelly Bridgewater

I work in a Financial Aid office at a university.

I see students that take debt because they have no plan to pay their academic year bill.

Their parents did not save anything. They attend colleges all the way across the country where the student is paying complete out-of-state rate, which is usually two times as a resident of that state.

Or students who live in town of the college, but they want that college experience, so the parents want them to live on campus and pay out for room and board. At our university, it is $12000 a year.

That is A LOT of money to live across town.

All of these students and their parents are willing to take out loans.

I see some students that do not want to take loans out, but they have no idea how to pay their bill.

I see Physician’s Assistants that take out over $50,000 a year in loans because they have to travel for their clinicals to another state.

None of these student work.

They live in the most expensive apartments in town. New cars that they lease but want all this debt. They are taking them willingly.

So why as a country should we forgive any loans?

No one is putting a gun to their head and making them take these loans.

I graduated with my BS and MA with no debt.

My son, who is a current senior at a university, has not taken out any loans. He still lives at home and goes to work 24 hours a week. Every paycheck is going toward his bill. He drives his paid for car and pays the car insurance a year in advance.

Why should I, as a responsible adult, have to pay more in taxes to pay back YOUR student loan debt?

If you took it out, then YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE to pay it back.

If you do not want to pay it back, then do not take it out. Go to school closer to home. Work while attending school part time. Live at home.

No one is picking up my mortgage and wiping it away. I still have to pay that every month.

Why should all these people have their loans forgiven?

If so, then what about the people that have had their loan paid in full, do they receive a refund check for the amount they paid off?

Wrong! No student loan debt forgiven!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Kimberley Woodhouse: The Secrets Beneath

By Kelly Bridgewater

Some secrets can only stay buried for so long. . . .

Anna Lakeman has spent her life working alongside her paleontologist father, drawing intricate sketches at every dig. When they find dinosaur bones near their home in Wyoming Territory, they're given the opportunity of a lifetime and are swiftly caught up in the competitive era of the Bone Wars. But after her father becomes sick and Joshua Ziegler, an old beau, returns for the summer, Anna's world is upended, and the practical, orderly life she has made for herself shatters.

Medical student Joshua Ziegler left his hometown to forget Anna, the one woman he truly loved and deeply hurt. But when he returns, time hasn't erased the feelings they've always had for each other. After Joshua's nephew goes missing--just like his sister did years ago--and Anna's job is threatened, tensions mount and dangerous secrets are unearthed.

My Thoughts:

The Secrets Beneath by Kimberly Woodhouse is a unique story. With Paleontology as the main story thread, I have never seen this is a story. At least, not in the Christian fiction market. The story was well-written with plenty of intrigue, romance, and action to keep the story alive. The one character that I really felt bad for was Julian. I kept wanting to see what would happen to him. Since I read a lot of suspense novels, I had a pretty good idea where his part of the story would end up. I would have liked to have seen what the end result of the archaeological dig that Joshua and Anna worked on through the whole story would have shown. Unless Woodhouse plans to keep working on this same dig site in the second novel, it would have been nice to see the final discovery or the article with Anna’s pictures and names on them in a magazine. Overall, The Secrets Beneath by Kimberly Woodhouse was different, thrilling, and had hints of romance to round out a nicely handled story.

I received a complimentary copy of The Secrets Beneath by Kimberley Woodhouse from   Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Secrets Beneath