Acquired Book By: Right before #WyrdAndWonder, I received a review request directly from the author Owen Crane. It was good timing as I was starting to assemble my chat schedule of guest authors for @SatBookChat for May as I knew I wanted to highlight Indie Fantasy authors during the chat whilst Wyrd And Wonder was underway. As a bit of a meet-greet for participants and authors as well as for my regular chatters to gain some exposure and introduction to what Fantasy can provide as a reader and/or learn about the craft from a writer’s perspective. Thereby, I offered to host Mr Crane during #SatBookChat whilst accepting his novel for review.
I received a complimentary copy of “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” direct from the author Owen Crane in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Reading and Chatting about Dawnhaven during #WyrdAndWonder:
I truly enjoyed being able to chat about this series, the debut of the author’s and to highlight another introductory conversation about Fantasy during #SatBookChat! It allowed me to present Fantasy in an approachable manner to my regular chatters who might not read as much Fantasy as I do but feel inclined to discuss it in case it might become a new niche of joy for them to chase after as well. It also gave the participants of Wyrd And Wonder a chance to ask an author direct questions about his writerly style of approaching Fantasy, why he personally loves the genre of Fantasy and what his plans were for the series which first begins with “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven”!
During the chat we were able to root out there are five books planned for this series which follows the five year Journey Ariella is undertaking with the Guardians. I felt this made the most sense when Crane disclosed it because it would allow for the most growth out of Ariella as well as the secondary cast of characters to have their chance to shine throughout the saga, too. I love long series in genres – it allows you to gain further knowledge about the world itself, the characters who live there and in a way, you get to stay longer in worlds you don’t wish to exit if it had only been a one-off story.
As we were chatting, we also discovered how much I appreciate reading Fantasy where the Light is not snuffed out by the Darkness. Nor do I seek out overtly gritty and gruesomely violent stories – (in Fantasy or other genres!) as I like to sink my teeth into stories which have quests for the characters to endure and/or there is something they need to either achieve or overcome but not to the point where the context of their stories are erasing the joy in which I pursue the stories I want to be reading. I was thankful a writer of Middle Grade Fantasy also felt this way because too often I am finding Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy are becoming a bit to adult in how they are either too darkly lit or too adult in their themes and story-lines.
There is a wonderment of joy seeking out Fantasy as a younger reader – that suspension of reality and the fantastical where innocent curiosity and joy can be nurtured through a story which doesn’t seek to erase that innocence but to capitalise on a well-told story in this ‘otherworld’ place which feels like ours but is wholly new & exciting to explore. I have oft felt Middle Grade & Young Adult stories should be focused more on encouraging younger readers to read well-rounded stories – where there can be adversity and challenge as well as growing transitions in their lives but not to the brink where it feels oppressively dire. This is one reason why I seek out a lot of coming-of age stories – as those can lend better to the kind of story I am seeking out of Children’s Literature.
Having the chance to discuss this series and to talk about Fantasy with Mr Crane was a true delight of joy for me because I like shining a light on Indie Authors who are curating the kind of stories which give me a wicked good time reading! If I could help encourage other readers to try his series and to give an Indie Fantasy series a chance at being one of their next favourite reads – I’ve happily passed forward the joy of discovering his novel! I am thankful he found my blog and submitted a review request – otherwise none of this would have been possible!
Ariella Lightharbour is heir to the crown with a nation at her feet but knows she’s meant for more. Forsaking her throne she chooses to become a Guardian. As she embarks on The Journey she must find the courage within herself to battle the deadly Ghost Raiders that murdered her father, discover the identity of the elusive shadow and fight to end the curse that threatens to overwhelm the land.
Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of , having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.
I received a complimentary copy of “Kingdom Above the Cloud” direct from the publisher Ambassador International in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
A sneak peek at the first book #JorieReads for #WyrdAndWonder:
I have been as eager as the next book blogger to receive her #bookmail lately – as with all the changes in our world recently – one of the industries affected has been the pub world of how books are getting published and their availability of being able to ship to readers. It has been a disheartening moment of our lives as we receive updates from readers who have gleamed further insight into what has been going on ‘behind-the-books’ & the production of books whilst as readers, we all must remain patient and understanding about the confines of how sometimes you have to wait longer to read certain books when there is a global pandemic affecting everyone’s life.
My #bookmail has been a bit unusually sluggish as a result as generally books take a bit longer to reach me overall – just one of those routes, I suppose, however, finding this lovely in the post the morning of my tour stop was wicked wonderful as it gives me just enough time to read it before the conclusion of the tour and makes my spotlighting an extract from its heart a bit sweeter, as well!
Most of my dear hearted readers know I’ve been co-hosting #WyrdAndWonder for the past 3 years this May – however, for those of you who are visiting through the #KingdomAboveTheCloud blog tour – this is a celebration in the book blogosphere for all things fantastical! My co-hosts (Imyril & Lisa) and I set out each May to uncover the stories, the authors and the mediums of Fantasy each of us personally are passionate about showcasing whilst embracing the wider community Wyrd and Wonder has become as fellow book bloggers, and socially bookish participants join us every May to signal flare a mutual love of Fantasy (as a genre and as a movement).
I’m thankful to have a book in hand to kick-off my journey this year as I have a pretty diversely eclectic Fantasy stack of lovelies to read – I look forward to diving into INSPY Fantasy as the event kicks off this Friday whilst getting ready to reveal which authors, which stories and which series I’ll be reading throughout May! Stay tuned for more information on my participation for #WyrdAndWonder and let’s celebrate Fantasy together! Leave me a note in the comments if you’re joining us!
What if the nine Fruit of the Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins were locked in a battle for control?
Abandoned as infants, Tovi and her twin brother were raised by an eclectic tribe of warm, kind people in a treehouse village in the valley. After her brother's sudden disappearance Tovi questions her life and her faith in an invisible King. Ignoring her best friend Silas' advice, she decides to search for her brother in the kingdom on top of the mountain.
Above the cloud, the Council of Masters receives their orders. Tovi and her brother are the objectives. King Damien has a plan and Tovi is the key. The Council of Masters want her, but will she remain unscathed?
Amidst the glamour of the kingdom above the cloud Tovi is torn between her own dark desires and unanswered questions. It starts with a snake and a crown. When the ring is complete, will her life be over?
Converse via: #KingdomAboveTheCloud, #YALit, #YAFantasy
as well as #ChristianFantasy, #IndieAuthor/s, #KACPrism and #MaggiePlatt
About Maggie Platt
Maggie Platt is a writer, traveler, cancer survivor, and dreamer. Her greatest joys are being Auntie M to her amazing nieces and nephew and sitting with students and friends over cups of coffee and deep conversations. She works at her alma mater, Anderson University, and she lives in a cozy little cottage nearby where students come to sit on her couch just to laugh, cry, and talk about life.
Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.
Previously I hosted a series of special posts attached to #blogmas featuring Fantasy novelists I was eagerly looking forward to seeking out throughout . I was hoping to read one of them for #WyrdAndWonder which is why when I saw one of the authors on my #mustread shortlist, I jumped at the chance to join the blog tour! My spot for the tour was on the final day for #WyrdAndWonder and it felt like a good fit at the time. This was prior to the 4x migraines which altered how I could read and blog this May; but overall, I was still celebrating the fact I could receive the first book “Mark of the Raven” alongside the book for the blog tour “Flight of the Raven”. This is also marking my first attempt to read #INSPYFantasy of this nature and I looked forward to what I would find inside the story-line as I wanted to see how an INSPY novelist might approach this kind of portal and epic fantastical tale!
I received complimentary copies of “Mark of the Raven” and “Flight of the Raven” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Celebrating a new interest in #INSPY #Fantasy this
#WyrdAndWonder from a #blogmas selection!
As you may or may not recall – I first featured this saga during my #blogmas series of posts last December wherein I had a chance to seek out #newtomeauthors by showcasing their series & books in a series of featured posts wherein I had the delightful joy in getting to know a bit about their characters, their world-building and/or their writerly styles of approach within the Fantasy genre I love to read! The interesting bit though is how a lot of those selections were actually within the sub-niche of #INSPYFantasy! Something I haven’t readily explored in the past and was delighted in finding such a strong pull towards seeking out these kinds of authors as previously I had mostly focused on Indie Authors and/or Self Pub authors who were writing the kinds of fantastical reads I dearly wanted to be exploring!
In case you might not have been with me during #blogmas let me recap what my thoughts were in December to give you a good impression of how I was celebrating this new interest of mine:
I am LOVING the art direction of today’s Fantasy market! I love artwork which pulls you into the world-building – gives you something to chew and contemplate and before you realise it, you already want to be living in that world – isn’t this the case for you? I oft wonder what allures readers to read Fantasy & Science Fiction – strictly the artwork or the synopsis or a mixture of both? For me, every story starts with a keen interest in the premise & what I shall find inside the pages,.. the artwork for me is the icing on the cupcake if I love reading the novel!
Ever since I started co-hosting #WyrdAndWonder (an annual Fantasy event with mini-events throughout the year) I’ve become more mindful of Fantasy as a niche I dearly want to explore further, as I only had a fleeting sense of what was available in the past. This month I’ll be reading one of my favourite Science Fiction novelists whose written an epic Fantasy series – a series I’ve been trying to read for the past few years and felt life constantly was pulling me out of its pages. As I knew #FantasyForChristmas was nearing – I felt by celebrating new worlds of Fantasy would be the best anchour towards reading more Fantasy this December!
This particular series I am showcasing today is about redemptive conscience – as there is an heir to a legacy not of the choosing of the heir but of the family she’s been bourne. There is a moral and ethical dilemma to her inheritance and as you read the synopsis from book one to book two you can sort of start to see where the lines are drawn for her and her family. Stories of individual quests in worlds of Fantasy are amongst my favourites but what is interesting of course, is this a second selection under the umbrella of Christian Fantasy. It would be interesting how this ties into the theme but also, how it reflects the crisis within the lead character for not wanting to make a choice that goes against her own beliefs.
Curious – which other stories in Fantasy reflect this kind of quest and what did you appreciate about those narratives the most?!
Now, as we fast forward into May – imagine my heart of gratitude having *both!* novels within this saga on my shelf to read & disappear inside before the closing hours of #WyrdAndWonder! I was wicked excited the day they arrived – as it felt like I had come full circle since #blogmas to find one of the authors I could read not just for the event I was eagerly co-hosting *but!* of finding myself able to read an author I had spotlighted & featured within six months of that feature running on Jorie Loves A Story! I have been wanting to be more proactive in reading the authors I’m spotlighting within six or twelvemonths as a way forward in the future rather than waiting a select number of years before I can ‘meet’ their stories as they say!
I wonder if anyone else whose been participating with #WyrdAndWonder has disappeared into this niche of focus themselves? Or, if like me it is a new thread of exploration!? Afterall, I love INSPY Lit – I just never realised they had such a healthy assortment of #FantasyReads!
Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.
As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.
Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.
One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?
Formats Available: Hardback, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
my review of mark of the raven:
Selene and her sister Amara have a long history of rivalry between them – it is etched into how they interact with each other and how seething in anger Amara had been by the priest’s gesture on behalf of Selene during a ceremony with a priest who seemed to have moved in and out of trace without his own recognition of the event. It is in that moment where Selene was given only one subtle hinting towards what might yet become true for her – the presence of the Dark Lady would visit with her and thus, starts the Mark of the Raven.
Nothing short of oppressive expectation was placed on Selene’s shoulders – from what you gather of her mother’s reaction to her gifting. In this world, there is a break-down of gifts passed through different generations – each particular ‘house’ then is given a different talent of power. Selene was bourne into the Ravenwood lineage and their particular gift is that of ‘dreamers’. What was keenly interesting to me is in the front pages of the novel, we’re not just blessed with a map of the world but with a firm break-down of which house and family is given which gift! Further interesting is when it was revealled Selene has a tattooed birthmark of a raven on her back – a visual etching which did not appear to be the norm but rather the exception.
As Busse walked us through the procedure for achieving your gift in this world – your heart went out empathetically to Selene for it is not a passage of rightful inheritance without its merciless agony! Not only the fact it is a painful transformation for the person undergoing the alteration from an internal and external experience but it foretells a bit about how this world is only in balance when everything works towards rising through the ancestral lines of prophecy. You can readily see why Selene wants to push back against her rite of passage – the uncertainties of what is expected of her and the unknowns regarding her particular talent are what are bolting her to consider thoughts of exodus the women of her ancestral line may or may not have considered previously.
It is hard to decipher who was on pins more – Selene or myself as she was about to embark on her first dreamwalk! I sensed this is not a gift to take lightly nor was it one Lady Ravenwood had explained to the depth of what really occurs when a person enters another person’s dreamscape – in essence, I felt there was a flickering of distrust in what her mother would require her to do and thereby, it would become a marked moment in Selene’s life – to choose the destiny she was given or to walk a different path. At least this would be the soul searching choice I would undertake – as just as I suspected her dreamwalking destiny is not exactly what Selene might have forethought it would entail; if anything, it might be the opposite of what she intended it to encompass! And, therein of course lies the truer drama behind this story – how does a girl who newly inherits an ancestral gift sort out her own feelings about what that gift truly means to both her family and the people they oversee?
The historical aesthetic of this world reminded me of my readings of the Guinevere Tale trilogy – where ancient magic and conflict of war embattled Guinevere’s soul to the brink of where she nearly lost herself for the will of prophecy. Part of me saw a bit of Guinevere’s internal conflict arching into Selene’s own worried conscience – it is hard to embrace a gift you were given if after you’ve received it the war begins with yourself. However, back to the historical overlays – as this is set within a historic setting with the scope of detail I love from Historical Fiction, you immediately connect to Rook Castle. Even the name eludes to the Ravenwood women’s line of connection to the corvid they embody – it is quite the setting to explore – from the labyrinth corridors and the hidden passages which hold secrets of their own. Just to walk alongside Selene as she traverses her own home and the niches of solitude she attempts to seek out from it is a blessing.
It is quite chilling – this dreamwalking gift Selene has – as she’s forced to do her mother’s bidding – inflicting pain and terror into the people she felt they were meant to be protective of in their care (first the gardener, than a servant of her mother’s) she drew closer to understanding how twisted this gift could become if it continued to be used for nefarious purposes such as her mother was eluding her to believe. Yet, you rally behind Selene because she is of an independent mind – she is seeking the truth behind the legend of the gifting but also, the truer legacy of what being a dreamwalker was meant to entail all along. Sometimes it is best to walk backwards into the past – to see what came before you in order to better understand your purpose in the present; this is what I felt Selene was attempting to do. She didn’t have the knowledge of the past but she yearned to find it – to collect knowledge about the dreamwalkers but also the other Houses of this world where the darkness was strikingly real and where the evils of fate were clawing their way into her own spirit. She was a fighter but how long would the will to fight stay within her own soul?
Three sisters are entwined to this legacy of Ravenwood House – Selene, as a first bourne has the privilege or curse (if you will) of finding out the secrets their mother has kept from them first – however, her middle sister Amara is curiously adamant to follow in her footsteps as quickly as she can without the realisation of what that fever of intention would mean for her own conscience to either accept or reject. Their youngest sister Ophie is the more innocent of the three – perceived to be a mute, her innocence is full of the lightness the other two sisters do not own of themselves. They are too closely connected to their mother’s indoctrinated routines and thereby are walking closer to the shadows than their younger sister would feel comfortable within herself. It is a curious overlay to the story – how three sisters can grow in the same house and yet be remarkably different from one another from the inside out.
What is most gutting is the insurrection of Selene’s own soul – she is struggling to rectify the purpose of her family against her own will as a sentient being being crushed against a tidalwave of injustice stemming from her mother’s twisted sense of righteousness. There is a moment where you feel compelled to pause your readings of Mark of the Raven because of what is implied within one of the dreamscapes – it is the one affecting Renata, the maid Selene never wanted to interfere with through her dreams because of the closeness she feels towards her as a friend. If the two could be considered friends as there is a hierarchy in place within this world. Although the details of the girl’s attack is not graphically depicted it is hinted at in such a way as to give you the strong impression of what happened and why it happened when it did – thus, giving more gravity to the dreamwalking gift Selene is burdened with by her ancestral lineage. What is further wrecking is how Selene reacts to why her mother wanted her enter this girl’s dreamscape and what happens after she does – it is an awakening moment for Selene, one which re-shifts the power within her family but also draws a considerable line of absolutes for herself. You give her credit for finding courage out of chaos but the main concern I had reading this particular passage is the lack of control Selene experienced whilst attempting to right the wrongs of the past.
Grand Lord Damien has a conscience in-line with Selene – he is from the House of Maris (known as the Waters) wherein his gift is tied directly to the element of Water whilst his gift is as powerful as Selene he isn’t as accustomed to the strength it will wield if he chooses to use it. They share quite a heap in common on that front – each of them is burdened with a legacy not of their choosing and with a powerful evocation of that talent within them that they cannot always control. It speaks to the harder question about the world at large and how each of these Houses have their own issues with their own legacies. There is a hinting of war and a further disassociation with their lineage if they are to draw together rather than remain apart – as his entrance into the story reveals a few secreted truths thus left unknown.
What I enjoyed about this first installment is the foundation it set for the series – how we are gathering glimpses of the brewing war between the Houses and seeing the differences between what rules the Light and what rules through the Dark Lady. It is a series about the choices we make whilst we’re walking our path and the choices thrust upon us through unforeseen adversity. The path is always a clear one for each person to make – if you are honest with yourself, you can see the ways in which your path must align. That doesn’t mean to say there isn’t a darkness within this world (as there is) but it does mean the people in this world have a free will of their own to choose which path they desire to walk. In that, Busse has written a series which mirrors real life and the choices everyone must choose for themselves.
on the fantastical writing style of morgan l. busse:
When it comes to High Fantasy (ie. Epic Fantasy), Portal Fantasy and Quest Fantasy – I almost could presume to realise that Ms Busse was about to encompass everything I love from this triple threat of fantastical worlds due to how she places you inside her world. It isn’t just the fact this world feels older than the initial pages you’ve read, it is how she has chosen to let her characters peer at us from their regular habits – they are living their life and we’re observing their life from the outside. I love when writers have this authentic nature about their world-building to where you feel like you’ve slipped the veil and have re-emerged elsewhere; settling into a step with characters you dearly want to know more about and a world which although slightly curious round the edges has its own share of darkness.
Busse does a wonderful job of building the suspenseful arc surrounding the Ravenwood women’s predestined gifting – she has granted the reader an introspective viewing of what happens when you are not willing to blindly accept your fate but rather, with a thoughtful concern for what that fate might imply against your own better nature – to examine it and to sort out where your own allegiances lie within the sphere of the world you were bourne.
She makes you compelled to read the story if only to see where each of the characters are going to take their own stands because this isn’t a fate that you would wish upon yourself or anyone else. It is a question of morality and ethics, too – of what you might be willing to do for the sake of your family but if it goes against an inherent belief of yours? If it crosses that line in the sand where your conscience cannot justify the means of the gift – what do you do then? Its a good plotting to think over and to turn round on yourself whilst your examining the will of Busse’s characters to do the same even if they previously had just succumbed to what they were pushed to do.
Notations of being an #INSPYFantasy with realistic undertones:
This story deals with a lot of different themes and topics – from physical violence against women to the implications of manipulating people’s dreams whilst they are in REM sleep. The key elements of the story of course are threading through a lens of INSPY narrative – wherein you know the story is anchoured through a prism of light rather than the darkness afflicting its nature onto the characters as they each must choose which destiny they will either accept, refute or alter given the course of their own conscience choice in the matter affecting their lineage legacies.
You have to seek out the patterns of inspiration to see how this is an INSPY Fantasy novel as it has the markings of a traditional Quest and High Fantasy story arc – wherein the main question permeating through the novel is what choices will Selene make now that her destiny’s out in the open and the layers of its reach are known to her and her mother? It is not overtly INSPY in that there are distinct cross-overlays between Christianity and this fantastical world – there is a hint and a nod towards religion but it isn’t omnipresent in the narrative itself. Except for the concept of the soul and the journey of the soul – wherein is the most spirituality you’ll see as you walk through the story itself.
It is more of a thinking novel about the concepts of spirituality and the concepts of living against your moral fibre as a sentient being who has the conscience walk of the soul within you. The greatest battle of course is between the Dark Lady and the Light – of which you can draw your own conclusions about whom their representing and I loved Busse for giving readers that option of choice.
Having said that – there are realistic undertones of darkness and darker influences of behaviour running concurrent to the journey Selene and her sisters are being forced to walk. Their legacy of dreamwalking (and I would suspect others who are gifted in other ways, too) has become corroded against the good and embraced by the darker forces which seek to destroy the light – this is something that speaks volumes about how Busse has developed her world as it isn’t outwardly discussed per se but you can acknowledge the fight for these forces all the same.
→ Dreamwalking | Dreamwalkers (ie. Dreamers)
→ Inherited Gifts per each ancestral House (ie. Dreamers, Waters, Fire and Earth, Wisdom, Healing, Light and Courage)
→ Souls and their innate energies (loved the visual differences between good/evil)
As we are peering into this world through Selene’s journey as a dreamwalker – it is her gift we are first presented with understanding. The concept behind dreamwalking is a clever one but it has a hardened and twisted view of right and wrong; wherein the choice to sustain oneself in this world is brokered against the will of others who are not giving consent to what a dreamwalker can gain out of their dreams.
Part of the gift of dreamwalking is the controlling aspect of what that gift involves – where you can either influence a person to dream or to re-direct their focus towards the nightmares which live off their innermost fears – it is a crucial choice for dreamers to inflict emotion on those they entreat inside – it also a measure of ethics to will yourself to cause such influence and to become hardened against the choices therein.
One of the more beautiful visuals within the series is how the soul is represented. It was by far one of my favourite passages within Mark of the Raven and a critical glimpse I felt of where the writer’s impression on the story was centrally focused.
It is within the dreamscapes where the Ravenwood women can shapeshift – having read a lovely and beautiful collection of short stories featuring corvids – I can attest to how Busse has chosen to write about her chosen corvid the raven as being not only accurate towards their nature but it is the right choice of which bird the Ravenwood women should use as shifters.
Selene Ravenwood, once the heir to House Ravenwood, is now an exile. On the run and free of her family's destiny, Selene hopes to find the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking. But first she must adapt to her new life as wife to Lord Damien Maris, the man she was originally assigned to kill.
While adjusting to her marriage and her home in the north, her power over dreams begins to grow. As the strongest dreamwalker to exist in ages, her expanding power attracts not only nightmares but the attention of the Dark Lady herself.
With a war looming on the horizon and a wicked being after her gift, Selene is faced with a choice: embrace the Dark Lady's offer, or search out the one who gave her the gift of dreamwalking. One path offers power, the other offers freedom. But time is running out, and soon her choice will be made for her.
Formats Available: Hardback, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
The Ravenwood Saga:
I am in LOVE with the cover art for this series!
Mark of the Raven (book one)
Flight of the Raven (book two)
→ *forthcoming next* : Cry of the Raven (book three) → February, 2020!
Converse via: #RavenwoodSaga, #FantasyNerd or #EpicFantasy
as well as #INSPYFantasy + #WyrdAndWonder
About Morgan L. Busse
Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, the Carol Award-winning steampunk series, Soul Chronicles, and the Ravenwood Saga, a new fantasy series from Bethany House coming November 2018. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel.
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.