Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review of Chronicles of the Half-Emrys

I had the unique opportunity of reading the prequel to the Chronicles of the Half-Emrys series, which is probably something most people have not done at the time of my writing this.

As a fellow author, I was given the chance to read an advance copy. I loved it and couldn't put it down. I became a Lisa Rector fan immediately. I started interacting with her on social media and asked her a lot of questions about her stories.

When I was done reading the prequel I needed to read the rest of the books, so I bought all three of the main series. I have now finished Book One: Master of Lies and I will be starting into Book Two: The Two Masters later today.

I was confused by some things in Book One and wondered if I would have enjoyed it as much had I not read the prequel. Once the prequel is published, I would strongly encourage people to read that first. It’s really good. I would be curious to talk to other people who have not read the prequel to find out if they understood all the things that were in Book One.

This is not my usual genre. I don't normally read fantasy novels and I have never read anything with dragons in it. If I hadn't had the opportunity to read the prequel I may never have read the rest of the series. I'm very glad I did read the books because they're great.

I told Lisa half way through my reading of Book One that these are not so much fantasy novels as they are powerful love stories. The passion between the characters is phenomenal. The passion in the prequel is even better!

I look forward to reading Book Two and I'm sure I'll have much more to say after I'm done.

I highly recommend reading anything by Lisa Rector. I will seek her out in future reading endeavors. Great author, great series.

Have you read Chronicles of the Half-Emrys? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

Chronicles of the Half-Emrys Book One: Master of Lies

Chronicles of the Half-Emrys Book Two: The Two Masters

Chronicles of the Half-Emrys Book Three: Master of Time

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book Review of Broken Like Glass by EJ McCay

I loved Broken LikeGlass by EJ McCay, and have already read parts of it again. I will probably eventually re-read the whole book, which really says something about it. As busy as I am, and as many books as I have on my reading list, if I’m willing to invest my time in a book twice, that book deserves five stars!

I was hooked on BrokenLike Glass from page one and couldn’t put it down. The story begins just after the main character, Lilly nearly goes to jail for stabbing her Daddy, who is actually her adopted father, but more on that later.

Because Lilly can’t actually vocalize why she stabbed her father, the judge orders her to go to therapy to dig into her past and try to find out. There’s always a reason why someone suddenly hurts someone else. People don’t just stab someone out of the blue; there has to be a provocation. Kudos to the judge for trying to find out why, rather than just throwing Lilly in jail.

The story focuses heavily on an internal dialogue between Lilly and God, who she refers to as ‘Papa’ but more on that in a minute. Lilly describes God as if he’s really sitting right there in the chair next to her, and talking to her, and looking at her, and coming and going, and poking her in the heart.

Lilly is also caught in a love triangle between two guys neither of whom she’s seen in fifteen years, but both of whom had a crush on her back when they were young and neither of whom have had any relationships in between then and now. There were hints here and there that Lilly had a bit of a shady past with guys during those interim years and may have done things she wasn’t proud of.

The local bartender, Fancy refers to Lilly at one point as her “favorite nerd” yet Lilly talks with a snarky, back-woods twang and thinks of herself as no-good trash. She also supposedly is a successful business woman with a career that she just puts on hold in another town far away. The reader never feels Lilly as being happy so we never see her smile, yet one of the guys in her love triangle is constantly telling her she’s beautiful. I just can’t picture a sullen, depressed, back-woods trash girl who never smiles as being a nerd and/or beautiful and/or a successful business woman. It just doesn’t fit.

All the names of kinfolk were confusing. Lilly calls God ‘Papa,’ the man who raised/adopted her is called Daddy but he’s not actually her Daddy, he’s her Grandpa except at one point the bar tender, Fancy makes reference to Lilly’s biological grandpa which led me to believe that there was another man in there somewhere. Then later Fancy tells Lilly that she has a half-brother somewhere because Grandpa/Daddy had a son who lives “somewhere up North East” who she’s never met and they never talked about much. So, technically that half-brother would actually be a half-uncle, unless of course Grandpa/Daddy is not actually her biological grandpa, in which case the half-brother/half-uncle wouldn’t actually be related at all. Lilly’s biological grandma, who she calls Momma, adopted her when Lilly’s biological mom ran off. Grandma/Momma’s name was Lula but Lilly was named after her great-grandma Lillian, who ‘by adoption’ is now her grandma. Lilly’s biological dad was Lula’s son (from a previous marriage – okay, now I see where there actually is a biological grandpa out there somewhere who is not the man who raised her or her biological dad) and Lilly’s biological dad would come around for a few days at a time over the years and then would leave again. No wonder Lilly’s crazy and has blocked out half her childhood!

The real reason she stabbed her Daddy is actually quite predictable, but the true story of the book is Lilly’s journey of discovery. Grab some Kleenex and be sure you have a few free hours of time when you read this because you won’t be able to put this book down! And if you’ve ever had any type of abusive relationship in your past, be prepared to dredge up some old wounds as well. Personally, I think almost everyone will be able to relate in some way to this story. It just touches on so many different parts of our lives and the interconnectedness of the people in our past, present, and future. Wow, okay, quite a story.

Have you read BrokenLike Glass by EJ McCay? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

Other Books by EJ McCay:

Charitable Hearts is really good! I'll write a review for it one of these days.

I'm reading Called Warrior right now, so I'll write a review sometime after I'm done.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review of The Trophy by Keith N. Fisher

I really liked TheTrophy by Keith N. Fisher and couldn’t put it down. I even took my Kindle with me to the county fair so I could read while my kids rode the carnival rides. I’m giving the book five stars because I look forward to reading it again. As long as my reading list is right now, if I’m willing to take the time to read a book twice, that’s a really good sign.

That being said, I had a hard time keeping up with all of the characters because so many of them were introduced in quick succession. It did not grab me from page one, but it had a lot of mystery and intrigue and so it captured my attention pretty quickly after that. By the end of chapter one, I was hooked and couldn't put it down.

The main character, Christy showed a lot of growth very quickly, almost too quickly in that it was not believable. When she was thrown into complicated situations, she rose to the occasion without having any prior training, as if it was instinctual rather than learned.

Some of the relationships at the beginning of the book that started out very professional became more familial rather quickly, which surprised me. Yet by the end of the story they all fit into place quite well. I was glad to see a romance start about a third of the way into the book, because love stories are my favorite.

I’ve heard there are other manuscripts written by Keith N. Fisher that will be available in the future. If all of his stories are of this quality, I will be seeking out the opportunity to read more from him. His untimely passing is a loss to the literary community as well as his family. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to receive an advance copy of The Trophy in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read TheTrophy by Keith N. Fisher? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Celebrating Team USA Women's Swim Team!

In honor of The Olympics starting this week, and because my main character, Gail is an Olympic swimmer, check out my novel The Cove on Kindle!

Let's celebrate all our Team USA Women's Swim Team by following the medal earnings. I'll be posting them as quickly as I can throughout the coming weeks. Good luck ladies! In between events, you'll have a great book to read. Download The Cove on Kindle now!

Cammile Adams – Swims 200m Butterfly
Fun random fact: Cammile loves Taylor Swift! (Me too!)

Haley Anderson – Swims 10K Open Water
Fun random fact: One of Haley's hobbies includes reading! (May I suggest a great novel about an Olympic swimmer? The Cove is now available on Kindle and paperback!)

Kathleen Baker – Swims 100m Backstroke
Fun random fact: Kathleen was homeschooled! Cool!

Elizabeth Beisel – Swims 400m Individual Medley
Fun random fact: One of Elizabeth's hobbies includes reading! (May I suggest a great novel about an Olympic swimmer? The Cove is now available on Kindle and paperback!)

Maya DiRado – Swims 200m Backstroke, 200m Individual Medley, 400m Individual Medley
Fun random fact: One of Maya's hobbies includes reading! (May I suggest a great novel about an Olympic swimmer? The Cove is now available on Kindle and paperback!)

Hali Flickinger – Swims 200m Butterfly
Fun random fact: Hali must love cats because she has a lot of cats on her Twitter!

Missy Franklin – Swims 200m backstroke, 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle
Fun random fact: Missy enjoys reading and authored a book that will be released in December of 2016! We'll highlight her again in a few months!

Molly Hannis – Swims 200m Breaststroke
Fun random fact: Molly was born the same year as my daughter! Guess that means I'm old enough to be her mom... feeling old!

Lilly King
Fun random fact: Lilly wants to be a teacher someday! My husband's a teacher, too!

Katie Ledecky – Swims 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 4x200m 
Fun random fact: Katie was selected at the 2012-13 Female Olympic Sports Woman of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee! Congratulations, Katie!

Simone Manuel – Swims 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle
Fun random fact: One of Simone's hobbies is collecting sunglasses... huh? Totally cool hobby though!

Melanie Margalis – Swims 200m individual medley, 4x200m freestyle
Fun random fact: Melanie studied Fashion Merchandising at the University of Georgia. Totally cool!

Katie Meili
Fun random fact: One of Katie's hobbies is collecting maps! I have a degree in cartography, so that's way cool!

Lia Neal – Swims 4x100m freestyle
Fun random fact: Lia speaks fluent Cantonese and is studying Mandarin! Impressive!

Cierra Runge – Swims 4x200m freestyle
Fun random fact: Cierra attends the University of Wisconsin but is currently undecided about her major. We'll have to follow her in her academic journey!

Allison Schmitt – Swims 4x200m freestyle
Fun random fact: Allison is from MICHIGAN!!! Whoo Hoo! We're practically neighbors. Not really, Canton is a little over two hours away from Shepherd.

Leah Smith – Swims 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle
Fun random fact: Leah swims all freestyle events at The Olympics... just like Gail! Cool!

Olivia Smoliga – Swims 100m backstroke
Fun random fact: Olivia was named as the 2013 Swimming World Magazine Female High School Swimmer of the Year!

Dana Vollmer – Swims 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle
Fun random fact: Dana is a MOM!!!! Best job EVER!!!!

Amanda Weir – Swims 4x100m freestyle
Fun random fact: One of Amanda's hobbies is reading! May I suggest a great novel about an Olympic swimmer? The Cove is now available on Kindle and paperback!)

Abbey Weitzeil – Swims 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle
Fun random fact: Abby had only been swimming for six years when she set her first American record!

Kelsi Worrell – Swims 100m butterfly

Fun random fact: Kelsi is the oldest child in a family of six kids all who are competitive swimmers!

Join me in following this amazing athletes as Team USA brings home the gold! And in between events, check out my novel about an Olympic swimmer named Gail...

Some accomplishments are easier than others…

For Olympic swimmer Gail Pederson, gold medals came easy. Finding true love and marrying him in the temple? Not so easy. Especially with three men competing for her attention, and temptations leading her further and further from her goal.

Choices have consequences, and each choice Gail makes affects all four of them. One choice changes their lives forever, and leaves unexpected consequences in its wake.

Innocence lost, promises broken, and friendships destroyed. Gail may choose how to live her life, but she can’t choose the consequences.

Read The Cove on Kindle or paperback