Guest Post – How to Grow Stronger by Reading a Story by M. Liz Boyle – YA Fiction

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

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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 to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.

I want to thank Liz for joining my blog today to share her thoughts on 

How to Grow Stronger by Reading a Story

It’s interesting to be asked to write on the topic of the importance of fiction, because I’ve been asking my guest bloggers the same question lately!

And it’s a valid question to ask: with the whole Bible to read and learn from, why should we make time for fiction? Isn’t it a waste of time? As an author and an avid reading-aloud mom, I see many benefits to reading fiction, even (and especially) as Christians. 

One of my classes in college dove into the topic of visualization. Visualization is picturing yourself doing something successfully. It’s relevant to many facets of life, from practicing music to managing stress and enhancing athletic performance. 

*There is ample research that has found that people who imagine themselves lifting a weight gain proportionately more muscle mass than the people who actually lift the weight. The actual weight lifters may gain more strength than the visualizers, but the visualizers have a bigger increase in their strength from day one of the experiment to test day. And they didn’t even lift the weight! They just visualized themselves doing it! 

So what does this mean for readers, and how does it relate to the importance of fiction? Well, when we become engrossed in a story and in a character’s life, we relate to the character. The power of visualization suggests that if a character experiences something, the reader experiences it too. When the character hurts, the reader hurts. When the character wins, the reader rejoices. 

Since most people are limited by time and resources, we can greatly expand our life experiences by reading. When we relate to a character with social anxiety or depression, we have essentially visualized life with that struggle and we can now empathize with a real person who has that struggle. When we read a book and see a character work through immense guilt or work hard to overcome a sin, we have taken the difficult journey with them. Our empathy increases. 

Additionally, feeling the struggle alongside a character increases our courage and our ability to overcome our own struggles. Good characters inspire us to raise the bar, and they remind us that we are strong enough to live the calling God has given us. We remember how the character fought and overcame, and we feel motivated to be diligent in our own lives. 

God wants us to be compassionate, to be strong, and to overcome our weaknesses. Because stories are powerful and have such a strong impact on readers’ brains, Christian fiction can help us increase our empathy, strength, and motivation to overcome. So read on, book lovers. Find those characters that inspire you and walk their journeys with them. 




(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.


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Great guest post, Off the Itinerary sounds like a great series for the kids to tread!

    Thanks for sharing it with me and have a fantastic weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing the author’s guest post, bio and books’ details, the Off the Itinerary series sounds like a must read for my teen-aged grandchildren and I

    Liked by 1 person

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