Acquired Book by:Did you ever grow curious about a new publisher who produces science fiction, fantasy, and horror genre selections in both novel length and short stories? Did you ever decide to enquire with the publisher you’ve found to see if they were open to book blogger requests to read and review their selections!? This is the situation I found myself in as I was quite mystified by the offerings of World Weaver Press! Such a delightful discovery on my behalf [in 2015] with a website full of inspiring reads across SFF!
Since I started reviewing with World Weaver Press [in August, 2015] there has been a changing of the guard behind-the-scenes where there is a new owner & publicity team. I am wicked happy to see the legacy and tradition of WWP has been carried forward by this lovely new team! I am honoured to work with them continuing to showcase World Weaver Press through reviewing their titles and hosting future guest features by their authors! Except to say when my personal health afflictions and adversities overtook my ability to concentrate on the stories with successive delays in posting my reviews suddenly became the norm, I withdrew making new requests from the publisher as much as it pained me to admit I was falling further behind. I enjoyed the time I had as a reviewer for this publisher and I will continue to seek out the stories by the authors I’ve discovered along the way. I especially want to continue to gather the anthologies by Rhonda Parrish to round out my collection!
I received a complimentary copy of “Far Orbit: Apogee” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I’ve been dearly keen on reading this lovely Anthology:
It is fair to say, one of my favourite sections of Science Fiction are the realms within Space Opera & the infinite array of how we can not only explore Spacer lifestyles but delve into the myriad dimensions of how evolving life in Space can become for intrepid explorers, traders & colonists who dare to live offworld. It’s a place where due to the variety of entrances you can make as a writer – the reader, can become treated to different perspectives of life in Space inasmuch as the complex complications which go along with interstellar travels.
I originally wanted to read this during #RRSciFiMonth 2017 – as that is when I last updated the draft for this review. However, it was the year my father recovered from his stroke and the following year  I had over 10+ months of health afflictions and a higher frequency of my chronic migraines. Last year  was the first year I started to find relief from the migraines but also, the first year I could re-address my backlogue reviews whilst self-motivating myself through a few challenges which help re-inspire our self-directed goals such as #BeatTheBackList.
I made some positive enroads towards that personal goal of mine of erasing my backlogue of reviews, however, to be fair, I had less migraines this 2020 but more adversities to overcome as well. Such as the medical emergencies of my parents which included two ER visits in March (non-covid related) wherein I was alerted to be prepared if my Mum might have had a TBI and that would have left me as the carer of both my parents for the foreseeable future. She had sustained a series of bad injuries in an accident and thankfully after a few months recovered and healed from them all. It was an unexpected blessing and one we cherished receiving – yet, from January to May I was migraine-free only to have them return May-October.
I realise now my backlogue goals were set a bit too high to reach and thereby I’ve reset my goals to simply be “pick up a book on the backlogue, read it, sort out my thoughts for the review and let time be the chooser of when it is erased”. It speaks to how sometimes our goals are more long-term than short-term and how sometimes if you have health afflictions, you can maintain your optimism but sometimes you have to be more realistic with how quickly you can accomplish the goals you dearly want to achieve. Thereby, it is a pleasure of JOY being able to share this review during #SciFiMonth 2020! *whew!* What a long, long route I took to diving into FAR ORBIT: Apogee!
It goes without question, I will one day purchase copies of FAR ORBIT (the original collection) and FAR ORBIT: Outpost (if I can find where it was published and when).
Acquired Book By: A few years ago now, I started to review for World Weaver Press – until I reached the day where my focus on the stories I was receiving for review fell by the wayside. A lot of this had to do with my personal health, the recovery of my father’s stroke and other things which bring adversity into your life which can and will affect your readerly life. I cannot remember exactly what first took me away from reading “Heir to the Lamp” or the sequel “Solomon’s Bell” – however, I did attempt to read them at various moments throughout the past few years including shortly after I received “Solomon’s Bell” for which I posted a Cover Reveal and Extract.
This #WyrdAndWonder, I wanted to redeem myself a bit by getting back into the stories I attempted to read last year but due to the migraines and other issues I was having with my health, I was unable to complete my reading schedule for the event. This is one of the series I was most eager to read and am thankful I can finally focus on during our 2nd Year of Wyrd and Wonder. As I know there are other readers who are following or joining the event directly who appreciate Magical Realism and/or stories of the Jinn as much as I do. Perhaps they will find a new author through my ruminations and as always, I hope whenever I feature a story or anthology by World Weaver Press – word will continue to get out about this lovely Indie Publisher for Speculative Fiction!
I received a complimentary copy of “Heir to the Lamp” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
I admit it, ever since I met a ‘Golem’ & a ‘Jinni’, I’ve been intrigued by Magical Realism stories involving the Jinn!:
I must admit, I had such a wicked sweet time residing inside the world of Helene Wecker’s epic saga involving a Jinn and Golem, I was quite hopeful I might have been able to dig inside a few more since that fateful day I brought home her debut novel from my local library. The irony of course will not be lost on devout readers and bibliophiles alike who are now earnestly blogging their readerly lives (such as I am) when I state it took me until ‘now’ to find the proper time to give to another story of the Jinn – as we eagerly still await the sequel to Wecker’s novel.
When it comes to world-building in a Young Adult novel, I am quite particular about what I’m seeking out (if this YA review can clue you in a bit) as I like to feel as if I’ve properly been transported ‘elsewhere’ to such a degree of certainty – the experience knits itself into your mind’s eye and extends itself into your permanent memories. Because stories which give us that curious stretch of imaginative blissitude allow us the smallest of joys to step into the threshold of someone elses shoes and live their life for a spell!
I find myself drawn more into epic sagas & layered world-buildings in Fantasy; I have recently (since I’ve been a book blogger) found I lean more towards Science Fiction or Sci-Fantasy releases but at the heart of what I love most are Magical Realism stories alongside a fairy-tale re-telling, a legend of lore or an Epic Fantasy that simply carts you off into the depth of a novel that is so wickedly long in length you might need a month or so to fully invest yourself into it’s folds. (herein I am hinting towards my soon-to-be shared readings of “A Turn of Light”; writ by a favourite Sci-Fi author of mine: Ms Czerneda)
My appreciation of genies truly goes back to the infamous television series – where an astronaut and a genie fall in love whilst trying to ‘fit & blend into contemporary life’ – to such great folly you cannot help but laugh along with the characters or feel their misery when things go terribly wrong! Since then, I try to turn my eye towards literature and root out stories of the Jinn (and nowadays golems) which have the depth of journey and an honest world built out of their legends where story-crafters entreat to take us.
Thus, when I heard there was a sequel to “Heir to the Lamp”, I knew it was time to put aside my readings of Ms Parrish’s delish anthologies and hold off on the murderous kitchen novella, to see how Ms Combs has chosen to alight us inside her world!
A family secret, a mysterious lamp, a dangerous Order with the mad desire to possess both. Ginn thinks she knows all there is to know about how she became adopted by parents whose number one priority is to embarrass her with public displays of affection, but that changes when a single wish starts a never-ending parade of weirdness marching through her door the day she turns thirteen. Gifted with a mysterious lamp and the missing pieces from her adoption story, Ginn tries to discover who…or what…she really is. That should be strange enough, but to top it off Ginn’s being hunted by the Order of the Grimoire, a secret society who’ll stop at nothing to harness the power of a real genie.
Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities.
When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group.
Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Dream of the Navigator” blog tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I am a regular blog tour host with Tomorrow Comes Media and whilst I haven’t read all of Mr Zimmer’s collective works, I did previously enjoy his anthology collection of shorts out of one of his universe’s of interest: Ave. I have oft contemplated whether or not I could find a niche of interest in Dystopian stories and this one felt uniquely different and I decided to give it a go! This is interesting because the first time I read one of his stories I was a 1st Year Book Blogger and as I am celebrating my 5th Blog Birthday (this August), I am reading my second story of Zimmer’s.
I received a complimentary copy of “Dream of the Navigator” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
A bit of a reflective look at Jorie’s views on Dystopian Lit:
I must confess, I have been avoiding reading books that fall under this sub-heading across all genres for such a long time because I still have issues with certain books I read whilst in school! Writers like Steinbeck and Orwell did not paint my future well for appreciating Dystopian stories! Nor did I feel very inclined to read them on my own inclination due to the heavy amount of violence and dark undertones that seemed to be all the rage inside the stories that were being produced for the genre overall. Which is why I decided to undertake this challenge (originally) during SFN (Sci-Fi November aka #RRSciFiMonth). To approach the genre as a skeptic, but perhaps emerge after a month of readings as an appreciator?
This is how I began an essay about why I’ve been a reluctant reader of Dystopian Lit for the entirety of my reading life! I had meant to pull the stories off the mini-list of #mustreads I had pooled together that particular year – though as luck would have had it, something derailed my efforts and I hadn’t quite accomplished what I had set out to do! This was my 1st year as a Book Blogger and my first foray as a participant into the now infamous phenomenon knowing as Sci-Fi Month and/or Sci Fi November which was happily founded by Rinn of Rinn Reads (she’s since moved on to co-blogging).
A note on ‘dystopian’ literature:
Being that I am not as well versed in this particular genre, my understanding of its place in literature and the key components that make it vital to be read, will evolve as I seek out more titles to read. However, I started to expound on what I am reading through The Boxcar Baby, and have drawn one curious conclusion: dystopian stories have the tendency to bring out the warts of our exterior worlds and environments, and seek to convey a critical thought or forewarning that would then, either indirectly or directly shift the perspective of those who can bring about the most change in our own lives. Its a method of story-telling to bring to the readers’ attention certain aspects of modern life that are effectively in need of change OR give a cautionary tale of ‘what could be’ if humans do not tread lightly on a path that could lead them to a future of ill-regret. Again, I could be completely mistaken, but this is a newcomer’s perspective of what the genre is seeking to reveal and assert. To put it another way, one must endeavour to walk through a desolate and despairing dystopia in order to emerge into a utopia of balanced proportion.
→ The Path (Tag series, Book One) by Peter Riva (DNF)
→ Watcher (Watcher series, Book One) by AJ Eversley*
→ Carbon (Watcher series, Book Two) by AJ Eversley (DNF)
*NOTE: Eversley’s series in  was my ill-fated attempt to re-address a curiosity of mine about Dystopian Lit and to see if I could finally find a singular author who could not only entice me into their world-building but give me the kind of Dystopian story I was seeking.
As you can see, Zimmer’s Dream of the Navigator is my eighth attempt at reading Dystopian narratives over the score of the five years I’ve been a book blogger! I started reading this particular one *after!* my fifth blog’s birthday (6th of August, 2018) – marking it officially the one story I felt in five years which would become the ‘exception to the rule’ and the kind of Dystopian story I’ve been seeking all these years whilst wandering round a genre which has failed to garnish my full heart & appreciation!
There have been keen moments of where I’ve tucked inside a writer’s vision for their world-building which has befit what I felt would resound well as a ‘Dystopian Futuristic impression’ of where any particular world could be cast afield to such a such a time in ‘the future’ of where certain attributes of its society led it down a particular path and thereby led to a certain outcome. You can see this in the motion pictures “Wall-E” (one of the best representations of a society that is too ‘connected’ to see the truth in the pudding round them!) and “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” (where the sole pursuit of ‘life’ is found in a decidedly ‘altered’ future). Ironically, finding those films seemed to be an easier pursuit than finding a writer who knew how to write a Dystopian world which not only had the chops to hold my attention but to write a sophisticated narrative which has teeth to stand out from the pack!
And, then there was that particular infamous (in my mind) #SciFiExperience where I was wicked excited about reading Kate Elliott’s Icepunk series (Spiritwalker) whilst contemplating her ‘Court of Fives’ novel. I am still curious about these stories – I had to table my goals that year as well. There have been a lot of ups/downs over the years in my reading life & endeavours but occasionally when the stars aligned, I was able to read a few Dystopians despite the angst of having to postpone the other reads I was most curious to explore!
I drew together further insights into why I have this love/hate relationship with Dystopian Lit when I tried to settle into the first installment of the Blue series by Mr Hancock.
I think the main issue I find with Dystopian Lit is the fact everything is a bit cock-eyed; meaning, where you can observe what is wrong it isn’t enough to evoke change; you have to prove change needs to happen and oft-times that means putting your own life at risk. There is a clear wave of bullying between the different caste systems in the story, and the boy who caused Bruno to become painted is the classic bully whose connections protect him yet he is allowed to manipulate events without consequences. Bruno starts to unravell the underpinning principles of his world, whilst noting not everything on the Blue side is effectively the same elsewhere. For the Greens and those whose fire are reflective of blended hues (which points to the fact they ‘painted’ or blended their fire with someone else; either by force or compliant) getting through their lives is not quite the same as what Bruno had whilst he was a purebred Blue. The Blues are more elite in this world, as they are given opportunities the others are not privy to receiving themselves; even if by opportunity they are controlled. There is an imbalance between individual freedoms and the internal workings of the government who seek to control every aspect of their choices and how they act on their free will can determine their fates.
It wasn’t the writing that bothered me it was the structure of the story itself and how powerless everyone in Telesphore City truly were as perception on events trumped the truth of them; reducing any ability for justice. As I turnt around in my mind everything I had read up until this point, I realised why I struggle so much with Dystopian Lit and why I have been the last to admit it simply might not be for me at all. Its the disparity of it all. The overwhelming anguish of having the world painted black (here this refers to an intense thickening of darkness not a coloured variant of a word) to the brink where the light has barely any wick to shine. This is what bothers me a bit about Young Adult novels in general, but in regards specifically to Dystopian, I think I struggle with letting go of my optimistic spirit whilst I am reading them.
I love conflict and adversity in the books I am reading, but when it comes to Dystopian story-lines, I find myself uncomfortably displaced and a quickening sense of how fast everything can change. It is a bit like trying to sort out where you’ve gone wrong with a map written in a language you do not speak. I have read two Dystopian novels now, wells, technically I read a portion of this one and I struggled to finish the other one (The Boxcar Baby), giving me pause for realising sometimes what your curious about isn’t always worth uncovering. I just cannot give my heart to Dystopian Lit no matter how much I try to think there is a writer or a story within these worlds that will appeal to me.
Hancock makes interesting choices to steer the reader away from using strong language as a method of expressing what is being felt during the height of intense emotional moments; yet he cleverly uses colour as a way to not only explain the world but how colour itself can express the darkest shades of emotion. He makes clear definitions between what is considered right, wrong, and questionable (the in-between) yet personally I struggle to tuck inside a story whose undercurrent of tone is backlit with such heaviness; which is becoming the way I can express Dystopian story-lines. The uneasiness quickened a bit whilst seeing how callous some of the characters were towards each other and how the guards in the story were equally so towards everyone.
Hancock I believe has given a strong presence for YA Dystopian Lit for those who understand how these worlds are underlit and written as a whole. For an outside perspective, I didn’t find it a good fit for me personally but those other book bloggers I am thinking of tonight (including the girls of “Oh the Books” who co-hosted Sci Fi November this year!), I think they might tuck inside this and enjoy what he gave to the genre. For me, I checked out when a boy was killed simply for helping his best friend get out of a locked down campus — the manner in which he was killed just wrecked me on a lot of levels and the unnecessary force was just too disturbing. In light of recent current events, I respect a need to show different points of view and a clarity of conscience but in the end, the novel just broke my heart once too many times.
Where Hancock erred in keeping me rooted in his vision of his Dystopian world, Zimmer has excelled. The key differences of course is purpose & intent – there is an undertone which remains firmly oblique and darkening in Hancock’s world whereas there is a presence of Light & Hopefulness in Zimmer’s.
Moreso, I simply enjoyed the back-stories and the background of Zimmer’s Faraway Saga moreso than Hancock’s as to me, the world in which Hancock created would let down a lot of readers for how desolate it truly became. You never felt you could gain traction of change inside his world – everything was operating against rebellion and personal freedoms. Even the powers he conceived were at first uniquely interesting to observe but then, I felt he worked against that power and kept altering the potential outcome to something rather more nefarious than I was willing to see through.
A lot of the issues I had in ‘An Uncommon Blue’ were never observed in ‘Dream of the Navigator’ in fact, in many ways – I felt Zimmer’s series was built on a stronger foundation. He had a stronger vision for his world to where you never felt the world itself was ‘changing against it’s type’. He projected their motivations clearly and even the components of the structure and order of the world doesn’t alter from it’s own non-ethical protocols; they are what they are – which is beneficial to feeling you can trust Zimmer’s world of being exactly as it represents itself without a wench in the wheel throwing you out of its dimension.
Similar to my readings on behalf of Antiphony, Riva has begun his on discourse on society, technology, religion and our place inside the world itself – how we view our living reality and how our living reality is altered by what is never completely in our control. He has written a challenging text because like the other author, he wants you to ponder the deeper meanings and take the Tag series to an awareness of recognising what could be unnoticed right before our eyes. The only key difference between the two, is Antiphony was a pursuit to understand a higher plane of existence outside of our limited sensory understanding of ‘reality’ which broached spirituality and other ideals of thought. Within the Tag series, Riva has augmented a society removed from any religious or spiritual pursuits, as the controlling rule is specifically geared towards putting humanity through a vise and only allowing humans to live a life deemed beneficial to the whole rather than the limited few.
In other words, nothing about living is determined by the individual but is rather systematically fused to an ordering rule (i.e. the government in this case; of which I can only presume is similar to The Hunger Games world based on the notes my friends have given me on it’s behalf). I think it’s safe to say my preference is always to have a level of spirituality kept inside a world – even if the world is futuristic, I’m not a particular fan of dissolving all thoughts and beliefs of a higher power; hence why I never read Phillip Pullman’s series beginning with The Golden Compass.
Spirituality and Metaphysics are aptly explored in Zimmer’s Faraway Saga but rather than removing the precepts of religious thought & belief completely – to where it no longer has a place of origin or purpose, Zimmer found a way to ask intellectually stimulating questions of his characters – to where he desires them to recapture their own free will of mind & thought – to let them make the choices on behalf of what they believe or don’t believe without those choices being made for them.
He also approaches the context of this section of his world with an open mind – he let’s his characters walk a muddled path towards self-enlightenment due to how their world has repressed a lot of knowledge & information for the sake of population control and a future disconnected from personal growth. They want their citizens to remain in stasis intellectually as that would allow them to rule over them without conflict or disagreement.
Of the two, I prefer the approach Zimmer took – as it allows the door to remain open – for his world, his characters and the reader who is approaching his Dystopian viewpoint(s).
One thing I appreciate most about how Eversley has approached writing this novel is how she fuses bits and bobbles of what you can conceptionalise against what could be a living reality not too far forward into the future. It’s a unique balance – to insert readers into a world with a Dystopian bent and a world which brings up hard philosophical questions about humanity, the pursuit of living authentically and the greater purpose behind life itself or even the art of survival if things go dangerously wrong.
Eversley has tapped into a niche of Dystopian where you can play with the genre – you can add not only depth of the world through the layers in which we entreat inside it’s boundaries but by how this world is stitched together – from the origins of their beliefs (hinted at) to the constructs of how they believe their rights as sentient beings should be maintained (similar to us) whilst enlarging the scope to have a dual presence of foe against foe – each fighting for the right to be the champion and each not honestly seeing how they could bridge their differences (if that’s even a plausible possibility) as war takes it’s toll. It’s not just the losses of life – it’s the wear and tear on the psyche and on morale of those who are fighting everyday to live one more day towards the ‘end goal’. For the Carbons and the Watchers, they are each moving towards a collision of sorts – at least, from what I can gather – if this debut is the introduction into the Watchers as a collective, than the second novel in the series surely picks up the momentum begun here through the point-of-view of the Carbons; to give a buoyancy between good and evil or what is perceived as good vs evil. It could all be an experiment gone wrong – or rather, an experiment which outgrew it’s purpose and turnt into something else completely.
If anything, there is so much your thinking about – trying to root out Eversley’s motivating inspiration and uncovering what is driving the story forward whilst trying to respect the world and pull back it’s layers to see what is really being set for you to see.
You might be curious why I decided to take you back down this particular readerly rabbit hole – of why I felt it necessary to re-visit the past Dystopian Reads in order to better augment my reasons for preferring Zimmer’s vision for his own. The reason, dear hearts, is quite simple – if you didn’t fully understand where I had traversed in the past – through these worlds the prior seven story-tellers had crafted for me to find, you might not fully understand how hard it has been to seek out writers’ who are crafting the kinds of Dystopian stories I am seeking.
For the most part, there have been positives and negatives across the board – hence, why I chose to add the quotations and to re-empathsis what worked for me and what did not ahead of revealling my ruminative thoughts on behalf of ‘Dream of the Navigator’ which at first glimpse brought back memories of ‘Flight of the Navigator’ (a motion picture) – a personal favourite of my childhood. I am unsure if the title has any cogitation of reference to the film, however, it had one for me.
Despite being a particularly particular reader of specific genres and thematics of literature – I remain optimistic I can find a niche of interest even in the most unapproachable literary arenas I find rather arduous to step inside. This is why I’ve continuously tried to read different Dystopian works of literature – finding a few qualms overall (four DNFs out of eight is telling in its own right!) and yet, I haven’t reached the plateau of lost hope!
I also want to share – I reverted back to my days of being able to read ‘chapter samplers’ to decide it ‘Dream of the Navigator’ would be a good ‘fit’ for me – those were the days where I could read a whole chapter digitally ahead of sourcing a print copy to read in full – back before my clustering chronic migraines were not occupying so many dear hours of my life and wrecking a lot of readerly hours off the clock as well. Prior to requesting a place on this tour, I happily found a sampler for this novel wherein despite the limitations I have nowadays with digital samplers, I gleamed enough to ‘wish to turn the pages!’ and find out what was going to happen next!
This isn’t the reaction I was expecting – I thought it would take me a bit longer than mere paragraphs to feel attached to the story-line – after all, this was a *Dystopian world!* – though, I admit, my readings of Julie E. Czerneda’s #TheClanChronicles has opened my eyes to worlds on shaky ground and where disparity can threaten to overrule.
Of all the stories I read in the past within this genre – ‘Watcher’ was the closest I felt towards finding a writer who could write a Dystopian world in a manner of approach I could appreciate. There were issues of course after I read ‘Watcher’ – as the series had to go on without me as a reader, as there were key choices I felt which worked against the plotting established in the first book – but this time round – I felt much more confident about the Faraway Saga than I had with Watcher – and that simply boils down to individual choices on behalf of the story-crafters who gave them to us.
On my connection to Stephen Zimmer:
Over the past five years, Mr Zimmer has given me a lot of opportunities to engage with Speculative Lit authors – both through my readings of their stories (by the blog tours he’s hosted via Tomorrow Comes Media or through Seventh Star Press directly) and by letting me visit the radio frequencies by guest appearances on the Star Chamber Show (a blogtalkradio podcast). In Autumn of  Zimmer was one of the first publicity and blog touring companies to give me a chance at being a ‘tour hostess’ and I am quite grateful he added me to his Blogger Team! I have spent 5 years appreciating the journey into Speculative Fiction – deepening my understanding of the genre and of sourcing out the writers who are writing the stories I love to be reading!
I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Mr Zimmer through the twitterverse or whilst I host for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press and/or privately as well. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.
Notation on Cover Art Design: As soon as I saw the cover art for this novel – the genre it resides started to shift in front of my eyes! I loved how much ‘light vs dark’ is playing in the design – how the splintered and mirrored images are playing off each other – whilst hinting towards ‘more’ – almost of a pinnacle to reach vs where the state of things currently lie. Even the rainbow (the symbol of hope) was aptly placed and the lush world ‘above’ counterbalances the darker shades of a technate driven world. I was beyond impressed!! I have long held the cover artists with Seventh Star Press in high esteem and this is another one which left me in ‘awe’ admiring it! Of course, the premise and the chapter sampler worked together to tempt me to read the chapters behind this art – but for the sake of art and illustration, this cover is wickedly impressive!!
Cities have been replaced by technates. It is a world of soaring apartments, hundreds of stories high, where technology measures, monitors and rations to meet the needs of the greater populace. It is a world of drones, in the air and on the ground, and advanced robotic beings who carry out much of the harder labor, security, and even pleasure assignments.
Those discontent, or who resist, are taken to Rehabilitation Centers, established after the embrace of the Greater Good Doctrine.
For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence.
A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore.
What was once reality, now seems like an illusion in a deepening experience.
Begin the journey to Faraway, in Dream of the Navigator, the first book of the Faraway Saga!
Converse on Twitter: #FarawaySaga, #DreamOfTheNavigator & #7thStar
What I previously loved about Stephen Zimmer’s style:
You get the firm sense that Zimmer is a voracious reader who dips into a bit of everything that yields to his personal curiosity and allows his mind to wander through the gate of his imagination to deposit into a reader’s hands a wholly encased world whose dimensions are ever expanding into larger scales of tales yet to be told! Except for the few shorts, where I think he opted instead for traditional heroic bloodshed story-telling! This might draw a close eye towards the fact he appreciates the horror genre, and bits of that seep into this side of his fantasy worlds. It’s his passion for research that I applaud first and foremost, as not every writer goes to the length as he does and I always celebrate a writer I find who carries out research on this level! Secondly, he endeavours you to amplify his words into motion by the words he uses to provoke a visual response, in which backs up something he said in an interview I heard of his (whilst researching which questions I wanted to ask him in my own interview!) where he acclaimed his novels are set to embody a motion picture medium rather than the printed world of the book! This is a claim he rightly deserves to make!
He is one of the writers that I would genuinely be delighted to seek out (if it had not been for Tomorrow Comes Media!), as he parlays his fervent passion for research by interspersing what he uncovers into the tapestry by which Ave is threaded against! It’s a world that encompasses as many distinctively unique cultures, traditions, spirituality’s, and languages as our own living counterpart, and yet, it has something to give back to us as well!
The care he takes to diminish the force of the violence inside by counter-balancing it with a life lesson is absolute genius, because your not as apt to focus on the brief encounters of evil, but rather, on the benefits of what each short attempts to draw out of the character he’s chosen to hone in on instead! These characters, I perceive to be secondary ones in the larger stories (novels), yet, they have a specific life-path in Ave that cross-sects with the intervening entities or events that bring about the most metamorphose of growth! You can use me as a barometer in knowing that if I can handle these stories, you can as well! I have an intolerance for violence, but I cherish the soulful stories such as these that grant the reader a ruminative conclusion of what they’ve read!
Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels and novellas (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales (Sword and Sorcery), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.
Acquired Book By:I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of  and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.
This book review was sponsored by Hachette Books who provided me with a complimentary copy of the book “The Magic Cup” direct from their imprint Center Street (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
NOTE: This marks the first post and/or review I am featuring on behalf of Hachette Books which now states this is ‘sponsored’ by the publisher. Kindly refer to my Review Policy where I disclosed the reasons why this new language of disclosure is being added to [jorielovesastory.com].
Why I felt it necessary to preface this review with a note about current events:
By now, most of my readers (of Jorie Loves A Story) know I am a reader who has an active voice in the twitterverse and on her blog for civil rights and civil liberties, marriage equality, gender equality and social justice issues across the spectrum of what is currently affecting our lives living in the 21st Century. I initially read The Magic Cup in the early days of #wyrdandwonder – within the very first week of May. I had meant to post my reflections on it’s behalf closer to the time I had read it – if I had, this preface would not be warranted as it would have pre-dated what happened.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to make a conscience choice in what to feature and what to post in regards to current events – the sad bit is this story was writ by the ‘former’ President of Starbucks International, not the current President. To my knowledge, Howard Behar is fully retired from his association with the coffeehouse company – however, this doesn’t takeaway from the fact it grieved my heart as it did everyone else what happened with the civil rights of those men were violated. No one should have to endure or experience the kind of social injustice and prejudicial behaviour they did.
The reason I am choosing to release my ruminative thoughts on behalf of The Magic Cup is because it was quite literally one of my favourite stories I read for #wyrdandwonder. Releasing this review (at all) is never going to be the ‘right time’ to share it as the events of what happened will always be on the forefront of our minds and memories. The only way forward in life and in society is holding people accountable for their actions – something we have seen happen quite frequently of late – and I do hope, as a whole, Starbucks as a company will go back to the roots of their company’s foundations – as an openly inclusive meeting place where all members of local communities feel openly accepted to meet-up with friends, family, co-workers and the people they are working with on collaborative projects.
On a personal note – a copy of this book should be given to each employee in an effort to help them remember the legacy of Howard Behar’s tenure – as within The Magic Cup are the principles of both behaviour and the casualties of living against the moral principles each of us must choose to abide by or walk a long path towards personal enlightenment on how best to live with an open heart and mind in both our personal and business lives.
Therefore, I am choosing to share this story as a celebration of why I have happily co-hosted #wyrdandwonder this month of May, 2018 – it is to seek out the stories of the fantastical, sharing what derives a work to be a portal to #EnterTheFantastic and to give all of us an interesting purview of all the different ways in which Fantasy Literature can become explored through a writer’s vision of what ‘Fantasy’ can involve within their own imaginative thoughts threading into the genre itself.
Coincidentally, I did find this tweet s/o referencing an article which discloses his [Howard Behar] response on behalf of what happened recently. Wherein he does talk about how the company has strayed away from its founding principles and how difficult it is to see individual prejudices until a mistake is made thereby illuminating the behaviour which needs to be addressed and changed.
What drew me into reading this story:
When I first learnt of this lovely book, I hadn’t quite realised it was writ with such a clever spin on the fantastical, as I originally thought it was a short Non-Fiction story rather than a narrative short spun on the principles and ethics you would expect to find in the the world of Business! From that perspective, what truly anchoured me to the story-line as I started reading it were the quiet moments of entry from the Fantasy angels which were superseding themselves into the pacing and tone of the overall journey Steadfast was taking towards becoming a better man.
On how I Starbucked America
– from the Mid-West to the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast and Southern states
It is mentioned in the Foreword how the reason Starbucks was intentionally grown to become a cafe of community engagement was to curate a meeting space where people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic lifestyles could find a place to share a cuppa with their conversations – which flickered a light of truth in my own mind. This is the key reason I have loved ‘Starbucking across America’ (my mantra whilst road trekking) – you get to meet a lot of lovely people – from the baristas to the people sipping their lattes, to the telecommuters to the University students to the couples tucking in a date night in the middle of the week – you see a multitude of people in Starbucks.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting – the java is addictive (my personal favourite is the ‘cherry’ coffee latte), the sea salt hot chocolate is wicked sinful, the chai is the right level of spice and the green tea latte is as soul lifting as the fresh brewed teas.
I truly have Starbucked my way across America – from the Mid-West to the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast and Southern states – wherever I’ve travelled, the one constant has been the warmth of joy entering a Starbucks and knowing for a respite of time spent off the road, I’d have a lovely cuppa in my hand, a spontaneous conversation about to make me smile and a knowing sense that even if we don’t all agree on a lot of different topics of interest, the one thing which unites us is our love of tea and coffee!
Reflections prior to reading the text:
There’s magic when a group of people is bound together with common purpose. It’s the chemistry of real people, doing the right things, with the right set of values. The journey to discover that magic – to create it with the people on our team – is what this tale is all about.
– quoted from The Magic Cup with permission of the publisher
I remember when I first spied this lovely little book – this little gem of a text which contains an uplifting jolt of spiritually renewing motivation to succeed not only in business but in life – as I was in the mindset of contemplating my ‘next move’ so to speak back in . I hail from a family of entrepreneurs – most have to go to University to gain a background in Business & Economics – I grew up in the shadows of business savvy parents and a grandfather who re-set the standard of business forms for his Corporate America company. Forget the MBA, I had real-life education before that became a new buzz word of innovative educational opportunities which seek to place you out in the real world to gain real experiences.
I also had the pleasure of attending a school in the city of my birth which suffered greatly by the budget cuts which corroded most of our favourite educational ‘extras’ (ie. art, shop, theatre, music, classroom pets/animals, field trips, etc) except it received a special invitation to attend a faux working city environment where children in elementary or middle school could ‘pretend’ to go to work for a week and see where they might ‘fit’ once they graduated high school. It was an interesting experience I had the joy of doing twice – once I worked at a pharmacy and the second go-round, I was part of the video team – an interviewer who had to go store to store, with a mic and not a lot of charisma or confidence, seeking a story I was inventing with each conversation I engaged within.
I worked in my father’s company from the age of three until eighteen – not consequentially (laughs) but as a toddler I was the right height to deliver certain things pertaining to my father’s business whilst gaining a unique perspective on the lighter side of his Industry. (Remember, I’ve previously said my father worked in the field opposite of the city morgue.)
From these roots – I knew I was going to enjoy working – except finding my niche out in the world of Business has had a rocky start as I came out of the gate slightly over-qualified for most entry level positions due to the knowledge I had gleamed by observation, real-life applications and having a keen mind for organisational affairs across a wide spectrum of industries not limited to the ones my family was involved.
It took me awhile to sort things out – even now as a 5th Year Book Blogger – the more information I’ve gained about the book world, the more I’ve sorted out where I fit within the world of publishing; startling enough, it isn’t quite where I first felt I would embark into the next chapter of my journey as a writer! In effect, the vision I had five years ago has altered, morphed through experience and taken a new course – one I am very happy to be researching right now.
Meanwhile, whilst I’ve been my father’s caregiver for the past year and a half since he survived his moderate bilateral stroke (see also Post) I’ve had a lot of time to consider what I want to do in regards to launching myself into trade and commerce. I sort of knew I should be my own boss – own my own companies, diversify my portfolio of investments and carve out the path I’m meant to walk rather than follow in other people’s footsteps.
I’ve been a natural bourne leader since I was in pre-school when I befriended a (presumed) mute boy who turnt out to be shy and was quite vocal by year’s end – my friendship opened his heart and gave him a reason to ‘talk’. No one else stepped forward to show him the kindness of friendship – so imagine, my chatty self taking him round the school, engaging him in our activities and never leaving his side. In return, I heard his ‘heart-notes’ of gratitude and felt joyful in spirit I was making a difference in his life as he frowned less and smiled more with each passing day. I continued to stand apart from my peers as I grew in school wherein I also skipped my slated graduation class and opted to exit high school on my own terms ahead of schedule.
The best freedom in life is owning your own truth – sorting out your own path – trusting your instincts and living through your faith. It’s never easy to go the route no one else is taking – to dig deep into yourself, believing your on the right path even if it feels arduously opposite of what everyone else your age is doing – at the end of the day, you have to return back to centre and realise your life is meant to yield different results. Not everyone can follow after each other – we’re all individuals – we all have adventures and experiences to seek out which define who we are but also, how we interpret the reasons why we are here. We all have a purpose – if we hold onto that truth, we can never fail to be living the life we’re supposed to be embracing. Even if we’re non-conventional and alternative to the general populace – there’s a reason why we stand out and seek a different path.
When I saw this book – I felt an re-awakening in my mind and heart – I have been contemplating what to do professionally for a long while – as I put my life on hold for my family when health crises overtook our lives, where immediate family members were facing difficult crossroads and where a grand-daughter was needed to stay close to home. Through it all, I’ve had my eye on a diversity of fields as much as my heart flutters aglow with the joys of philanthropic interests – I always knew part of my life was going to be devouted in equal parts between professional pursuits and my work in charity. In essence, the term ‘socially conscience’ companies was something I was contemplating before they birthed the term to give back to others whilst lifting up your own business – as it goes back to the adage – it takes a village.
As I have talked about why I love Starbucks, I’ll move on by saying I love pro-positive inspirators (my term!) who seek to motivate others to follow in their wake – to lit a fire of hope and inspiration in others who might be wondering if they can accomplish a similar goal in their own lives. For this seed of insight, I felt I would appreciate reading The Magic Cup.
To refer back to the quotation from the book – as it works as a preface of sorts for what your about to read – what we can accomplish together with a singular focus of creating with purpose is definitively magical indeed! Or to put it a different way – for each of our cup of truths, we each serve as both the Light to inspire another forward and the encourager of joy who seeks to celebrate the serendipitous nature of life.
The Magic Cup Subtitle: A Business Parable about A Leader, A Team, and the Power of Putting People and Values First
We all love the fairy tales we grew up on, creating a world in which good always wins over evil, where those whose hearts are true and who do the right thing come out on top. But, grown-up competition for success is rough, even cutthroat, and we’ve often heard that nice guys finish last.
Not according to Howard Behar, whose career as one of the three leaders who built the Starbucks organization most definitely proves that nice guys finish first. In THE MAGIC CUP, Behar spins an engaging corporate tale to teach us exactly how we can do the same thing.
The story revolves around Vince Steadfast, the newly named CEO of imaginary manufacturer Verity Glassworks, which has fallen on difficult times. Vince is hired to help the once iconic company return to its glory days, and he brings with him a parting gift from his mentor and former boss: a stunning crystal coffee cup from Verity’s halcyon days. The cup turns out to be magic – truly – and helps him come to understand and reinvigorate the values that Verity has misplaced along the way.
In the tradition of great parable writers throughout history, Behar quickly involves us in an engrossing fantasy, continually challenging us to compare each situation with our own real-life experiences. The story of THE MAGIC CUP helps each of us discover that only by acting on sound moral principles can we fill our own cups with the personal and professional success and satisfaction we seek.