Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen: Review

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?
The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her....
When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.

(From NetGalley)

I don't usually write a review of a book the same day I finish reading it because I like to take a little time to mull it over, to figure out what I think of it. Not this time. This time, I needed to get my impressions down while they are still so vivid in my mind and before I get swept up into another adventure. That is a sign of how much I liked this book.

Based on the blurb, I thought I was going to like it, so I jumped right in, eager to see if my instincts were right about it. At first, I began to wonder about this as the book started out a little slow - at the academy - and I wanted to get to the good parts, which I knew would take place once father and daughter arrived in Cornwall. I almost gave up, at first, because I feared my interest would wane before they even left for their journey, but I persevered and I'm so glad I did. For once Emma Smallwood and her father reached the family seat of the Weston family, the story really began to pick up and had me reading well into the night to see how it all turned out!

I have to say, I loved the characters in this book. Good or bad, they were drawn with such an expert hand, I couldn't help but have a reaction to them. Emma and Henry Weston were so finely matched, you couldn't help but to root for them and hope that they would end up together in the end despite all of their travails, differences, and reasons why they should not. Henry's brothers were deliciously ambiguous, so I often found myself wondering if they were good or bad. That just added to the plot, heightening the tension to wonderful degrees because it always keeps you guessing. Are they behind the mysterious events occurring at the Manor? Or do they know who is? Perhaps most important, will they do anything to stop them before someone gets hurt?

I'm not going to tell you. If you rally want to know, and trust me, you will, then you have to read this book for yourself. With shades of the great classics that came before it - indeed, this is my idea of what Jane Eyre would've been like if penned by Jane Austen - The Tutor's Daughter is a must read for anyone looking for a new classic in a similar vein. So whether you're a fan of Jane Austen of Charlotte Bronte, or both, you will soon become a fan of Julie Klassen once you read this wonderful book.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Treat For You - Sloane Wolf Excerpt

Shiloh nearly leapt off the sill as his hand touched her knee. It took every ounce of willpower she possessed to remain seated and appear undaunted by the gesture. “I am…much better now…thank you,” she said, becoming more unnerved by the presence of his hand by the minute. Oh, this was not good, not good at all. The longer it remained there, the stronger her impulse to bolt became. Oh, no…

What was it about this man that rattled her so and with so little effort on his part? Sharing the same air with him was enough to send her pulses to the moon—and her mind somewhere else, something new for her. Being this attracted to a man was beyond her realm of experience. She didn’t know what to do with it—or about it. Should she do anything? Should she pretend indifference? And why wasn’t he so deeply affected? It wasn’t fair.

Still confused, she gave him a weak smile, intent on backing up her previous claim with the gesture. She feared it failed miserably. When Micah returned her smile and lifted his hand from her knee, she felt precisely one second of relief before he shook her world again by caressing her face in parting. She stumbled
back against the frame of the window, her lips parting on a startled breath as a lightning bolt shot through her at his touch. Something flickered in his eyes at her reaction—pain, perhaps—and he retracted his hand, balling it into a fist as he turned away from her, preparing to depart.

In an instant, she realized her mistake. Along with it came the knowledge she couldn’t let him go away angry or upset. After everything he and his family had done for her, she owed him that much. She grabbed him by the shirtfront to stop him, and a shock of awareness shot from her hand directly into his heart, just beneath it. She could see it in the gaze he leveled on her then, could hear it in his breath trapped within his lungs, feel it in the missed beat of his heart. But then, all sense abandoned her, and her heart skipped a beat as he held her hand firmly to his chest with one of his own and lifted the other to her head, anchoring it against the window frame. Slowly, his eyes never straying from hers, he leaned across the space separating them. His lips brushed hers, like a whisper, before he withdrew, tilted his head to the side, and advanced again. This time the kiss was fuller, penetrating her every defense, both physical and emotional, but still not long enough for her. He retreated once again after a fraction of time and hovered before her, scarcely an inch away. Watching her. Waiting.

Her heart beating a frantic tempo now, Shiloh abandoned all of her reservations and her good sense to swoop in for a more vigorous kiss. So vigorous, in fact, she knocked him off his perch through the open window. Only quick reflexes honed to perfection at the Institute prevented her from tumbling after him.
Bracing herself against the sill, she leaned out the window as far as she was able and watched his descent from the slanted roof to the ground below. She lost sight of him the moment he slid beyond the reach of the light from her window. But then she heard him land with a thud —and a howl—on the ground in front of the back porch when he failed to catch himself on the roof edge. She clasped a hand over her mouth to silence her reaction and waited. When he didn’t rouse right away, panic shot through her and she leaned out another few inches.

“Micah? Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he answered after a few moments, appearing beyond the overhang of the roof as if to prove it to her. “Nothing hurt but what’s left of my pride.”

Relief coursed through her at his statement, and she allowed herself the laugh she’d literally held back before. Her mirth was cut short, however, by his next words.

“Hey, Shiloh! We’ve got to stop falling for each other like this.”

His laughter followed her as she ducked back into the room. She could still hear it even after she closed the window, though not as well. Oh, Lord. She rested against the cool pane of glass and touched her still-tingling lips with shaky fingers. Was she? Falling for him? Was that what this crazy-mad feeling inside of her was?

The question plagued her long into the night.


Buy Links:



BlogFest 2012 - Giveaway!

Hello all! I am participating in BlogFest 2012! For this event, I am giving away an ecopy of my book, Sloane Wolf, to one lucky reader. Comment below to enter. Extra entries for followers of my blog, just leave a separate comment letting me know you're a follower. Be sure to visit the other blogs on the list below and here to win a special grand prize! Sponsored by A Journey of Books!

Two Little Cavaliers
Cherie Colyer
Curling Up By The Fire
Jill of The O.W.L.
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Author Spotlight: Kathy Rygg, author of Animal Andy



Kathy Rygg

I’m wearing two hats as I write this post—one as an author who writes middle grade books and another as the parent of a middle grader. I’ve had many conversations with moms surrounding the question, “What are some good books for my first, second, third grader, etc.?” Most of the time, parents answer by suggesting well-known series featured at major retailers. But I’d like to help parents and grandparents realize there are so many additional resources for quality children’s books.

Most adults obtain their news from multiple sources—newspaper, TV, and online sites. Children should obtain reading materials in a similar manner. Purchasing books from a local retailer and visiting the public library are important places for your child to find reading material. However, the online world has opened up limitless additional places to help them discover quality books.

You may think the book market has been flooded with self-published books that are of low quality. While there are some books that fall into this category, there are still plenty of really great self-published children’s books. There are also a lot of small, independent publishers producing high-quality children’s books. My young middle grade novel ANIMAL ANDY was recently published by Muse It Up Publishing. The submissions and editing process was the same as for traditional publishers, but Muse It Up only produced ANIMAL ANDY as an ebook. I was able to have print copies made through Amazon’s CreateSpace, which is great so I can make it available in school libraries and at my local bookstore. However, the big question is, how does my ebook reach middle graders?

That’s where parents come in. Unlike young adult readers, middle graders don’t have the power to purchase ebooks online, nor as a parent do I want them to. I think it’s necessary for parents to monitor what their children are reading. But I also think parents need to do the leg work to help their younger kids discover more than just what’s available at the bookstore or on Amazon. 

My nine-year-old is a voracious reader and it’s difficult keeping his bookshelf full, so I got him an inexpensive e-reader to supplement what he brings home from the library. Through a little bit of research and web surfing, I have found so many great ebooks for him to read, many of them free or at a very low cost! In addition to browsing Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I also search,, and other independent publisher sites, children’s book review blog sites, and book giveaway blog hops.

On the flip side, my six-year-old is a reluctant reader, and the e-reader is great for him, too. First of all, he wants to be like big brother and read digital books. Second, with an ebook I am able to increase the font size and make the “page” he has to read less intimidating by having fewer words that are larger. By supplementing printed book with ebooks, I have even more tools to help foster a love of reading in him.
As parents and grandparents, actively help your children seek out quality books both in print and as ebooks. Buy your children an inexpensive e-reader and fill it with quality reading content. Parents want quality books for their kids. Authors are producing quality books for kids. Let’s get our kids and books together—it’ll be a match made in heaven!  

Bio: Kathy Sattem Rygg is a children’s author and the Editor-in-Chief of the children’s online magazine knowonder!, which publishes free, short stories for kids ages 3-10. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Iowa State University and has worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including the McGraw-Hill Companies’ Business Publications Division in New York City. She was also the Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. She currently lives in Omaha, NE, with her husband and two children.

ANIMAL ANDY: Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors that the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.
ANIMAL ANDY is published by Muse It Up Publishing. The ebook is available online at the Muse Bookstore. The print version is available on Amazon.

Kathy Rygg’s blog site is
Follow her on Facebook under KSR Writer
Follow her on Twitter @kathyrygg

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Conquer Your Fears and “Live to Give” Webcast

Thomas Nelson Author and Hoops of Hope founder, Austin Gutwein, to host September 6 online event to focusing on themes his latest release, Live to Give. On September 6 at 8 PM EDT, Austin Gutwein will be hosting a live Facebook web event to encourage participants to conquer their fears and use their talents to help others. The webcast will center on the themes Gutwein writes about in his latest release “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles(Thomas Nelson/August, 2012). At the conclusion of the webcast, the winners of a month-long social media fueled “Get and Give” contest will be announced, including the winner of a Kindle Fire and $250 donated to the winner’s charity of choice.

Join Austin on the evening of Thursday, September 6th as he shares about his own experiences and encourages others to conquers their fears and “live to give”. Austin will also be taking audience questions and interacting with participants. PLUS – there will be several “Live to Give” giveaways – books, gift certificates and much more! 

RSVP today and tell your friends. Based on the John 6 story of Jesus feeding the 5000, in “Live to Give” Gutwein challenges his readers that regardless of age and talent, God can use them to make a difference. Even though God could take care of everything Himself and doesn’t really need our help, He desperately WANTS us to help Him care for others. Gutwein walks young people through discovering and embracing their unique God-given strengths and abilities, then figuring out how to use those talents to help others. Sometimes doing that takes a leap of faith on our part, and often becoming fearless in the process.

More about Austin: At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Feeling called to help, he took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Gutwein raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia. Over the past eight years, Gutwein’s efforts have created Hoops of Hope, the largest free throw marathon in the world. With an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating, Hoops of Hope has raised more than $2.5 million to build schools, medical clinics, dormitories for orphanages, and the only computer lab in Zambia.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire and have $250 donated to your favorite charity. Click for the banner for details and entry or visit

Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at and

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Unnaturals by Jessica Meigs: Cover Reveal

The Unnaturals by Jessica Meigs

Expected pub: October 1st 2012

Riley Walker is one of the world's best covert operatives, employed by a top-secret sector of the U.S. government known only as the Agency. Highly skilled and lethal in a fight, Riley is fiercely independent and adamant that she work alone after the mysterious death of her partner in an assignment gone wrong.
All that changes when she's thrust onto a new assignment investigating the deaths of twenty-seven Agency operatives. Forced to work with twelve-year Agency veteran Scott Hunter--a stickler for following orders and a loner by nature--Riley doesn’t get a chance to protest before she and her new partner are passed to a sector of the Agency that they never knew existed. As they investigate the murders, Riley and Scott learn that there’s more to the Agency than they ever suspected.

They discover the existence of monsters right out of their wildest dreams.

Goodreads Link:

Jessica Meigs is the author of The Becoming, a post-apocalyptic thriller series that follows a group of people trying to survive a massive viral outbreak in the southeastern United States. After gaining notoriety for having written the series on a variety of BlackBerry devices, she self-published two novellas that now make up the first book of the series. In April 2011, she accepted a three-book deal with Permuted Press to publish a trilogy of novels. The first of the trilogy, entitled The Becoming, was released in November 2011 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Audible in paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats. It was also named one of Barnes & Noble's Best Zombie Fiction Releases of 2011 and Best Apocalyptic Fiction Releases of 2011 by reviewer Paul Goat Allen. In March 2012, she released a related novella entitled The Becoming: Brothers in Arms. The second novel in the series, The Becoming: Ground Zero, is coming in July 2012 from Permuted Press, with a third novel, The Becoming: Revelations, to follow. A fourth and fifth book are currently in the process of being written. 

Author Links:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Madness Giveaway

There's a fantastic giveaway going on right now over at Devon Ashley's blog, The Crazy Dream. It's called September Madness and it's crazy what she's giving away there! Check it out for yourself: