Category: Light vs Dark

From #blogmas to #WyrdAndWonder | #JorieReads the Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse – “Mark of the Raven” (book one) & “Flight of the Raven (book two) whilst delving into #INSPYFantasy for the first time!

Posted Friday, 31 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 5 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

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 [2019]. 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.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

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!

I was also inspired when I first started reading A Mortal Song during last month’s #Mythothon – wherein I was happily charmed by what I discovered when Japanese Mythos and Fantasy are entwined!

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!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

From #blogmas to #WyrdAndWonder | #JorieReads the Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse – “Mark of the Raven” (book one) & “Flight of the Raven (book two) whilst delving into #INSPYFantasy for the first time!Mark of the Raven
Subtitle: The Ravenwood Saga
by Morgan L. Busse
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

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?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780764232220

Also by this author: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga, Book Spotlight: Flight of the Raven

Also in this series: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga, Book Spotlight: Flight of the Raven


Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical-Fantasy, Dark Fantasy


Published by Bethany House Publishers

on 6th November, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

Published by: Bethany House Publishers (@bethany_house)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Formats Available: Hardback, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

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.

Fantastical Elements:

→ Dreamwalking | Dreamwalkers (ie. Dreamers)

→ Shapeshifting

→ 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.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

From #blogmas to #WyrdAndWonder | #JorieReads the Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse – “Mark of the Raven” (book one) & “Flight of the Raven (book two) whilst delving into #INSPYFantasy for the first time!Flight of the Raven
Subtitle: The Ravenwood Saga
by Morgan L. Busse
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

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.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780764234125

Also by this author: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga, Book Spotlight: Flight of the Raven

Series: Ravenwood Saga


Also in this series: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga, Book Spotlight: Flight of the Raven


Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, High Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Dark Fantasy


Published by Bethany House Publishers

on 30th April, 2019

Pages: 352

Published by: Bethany House Publishers (@bethany_house)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Formats Available: Hardback, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Ravenwood Saga:

I am in LOVE with the cover art for this series!

Mark of the Raven by Morgan BusseFlight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

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 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.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 31 May, 2019 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Light vs Dark, Prism Book Tours, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Supernatural Fiction, Sword & Scorcery

#Sponsored by Center Street (Publisher) | #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “The Magic Cup” by Howard Behar An unexpected fantastical world percolating through a narrative speaking about the ethics of the world of business!

Posted Thursday, 31 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

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 [2015] 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].

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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 [2016]. 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.

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#Sponsored by Center Street (Publisher) | #WyrdAndWonder Book Review  | “The Magic Cup” by Howard Behar An unexpected fantastical world percolating through a narrative speaking about the ethics of the world of business!The Magic Cup
Subtitle: A Business Parable about A Leader, A Team, and the Power of Putting People and Values First
by Howard Behar
Source: Direct from Publisher

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.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781478947479

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Non-Fiction, Sci-Fantasy, Self-Improvement & Self-Actualisation, Short Story or Novella, Urban Fantasy


Published by Center Street

on 14th November, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

Published by: Center Street (@centerstreet.com)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

Converse via: #INSPYbooks & #NonFiction as well as #wyrdandwonder & #Fantasy #shortstory

About Howard Behar

Howard Behar Photo Credit Lisi Wolf Photography

HOWARD BEHAR is a renowned business leader, author, speaker, and mentor. He served at Starbucks for a combined twenty-one years as both an officer and a board member. He was the president of North America and the founding president of Starbucks International. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Lynn, where he is able to spend time with his children and grandchildren.

Photo Credit: Lisi Wolf Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Thursday, 31 May, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, CenterStreet, Christianity, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Futuristic Fantasy, Inheritance & Identity, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Shapeshifters, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Urban Fantasy

Audiobook Review | “Halfway Hunted: Halfway Witchy, No.3” by Terry Maggert, narrated by Erin Spencer

Posted Friday, 10 February, 2017 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of [2016] during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Halfway Hunted” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions (of whom was working directly with the author Terry Maggert) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On the heart tug of emotional angst stemming out of the cliffhanger from Halfway Bitten:

In case you’ve missed my full ruminations on behalf of the first novel in this wonderfully witchy series, please direct your mouse to Halfway Dead!

Halfway Hunted promo badge provided by Audiobookworm Promotions

When Halfway Bitten concluded – I had mixed emotions. In some ways, I had trouble sorting out my thoughts because I couldn’t quite say I had the same reaction to the second story as I did the first: wicked sweet admiration for the story in whole. No. I honestly had a difficult takeaway, as portions of the story felt ‘off’ to me somehow, something I have sorted out how to explain, if you read the ‘postscript’ on my review.

The hardest part about the ending is how it ends – to be direct, this is the second time I felt overcome by the ending of a novel. The first time was during a read-fest of Lady Darby, of which sadly ended with me unable to resolve my feelings in order to read the adorable pocket sized fifth installment. (see also post) By the time I resolved my emotional angst, I was facing a real-life medical crisis. (see also post) In this particular case, it was simply emotionally gutting – such a sad conclusion and yet, a heroic gesture for someone’s beloved. Wulfric grew on me – as he didn’t warm to me initially – it was through his love for Carlie and the overtures of sincerity he made started me to think about another vampire I liked (ie. Angel; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Angel series)

Each of the Halfway Witchy stories are progressively moving deeper into the heart of Carlie’s personal growth and the ways in which her life is exponentially complicated through her experiences as a white witch. Maggert threads a hearty threading of realism into the backbone of the series – there are happy moments, sure, but overall, this is a cheeky satire with high octane drama. It’s set in a world just out of the view of our own – if you kept the veil of the supernatural away from your eyes, you could say this is ‘present day, 21st Century’, too. It’s texture of familiarity is enhanced by how Maggert etches into his narrative exchanges of cultural and tradition Americans would readily recognise. This is decidedly American – not just in how he chooses to write his characters’ unique personalities or their delivery of their lines, but rather, how the story is told. You can perceive a lens of grounding out of the author’s own imagination and living memories whilst countered against the unseen and very dangerous supernatural world.

This is why I am so genuinely addicted to this series – you feel like brewing up a warm cuppa and settling in for returning back to a place that feels so much like home. Similar to Stars Hollow if you will. Or any small towne you feel you can cosy up inside and be recognised as a resident rather than as a passing through outsider. This is why despite the cliffhanger giving my heart a lurched out motion of ‘how could this happen!?’ I felt Maggert left in just enough Hope for things to turn around and/or have restitution given down the road a bit in the next installments to where I could handle moving forward. Unlike my feelings on behalf of the recent episode of NCIS: LA (see this thread of a rant of mine) which pushed the envelope too far for me to even consider rational and plausible in regards of ‘where’ a story-line in a family tv series should go.

As an aside, Lady Darby’s story-line crushed my soul, NCIS: LA disturbed my heart and disillusioned my loyalty to a series I’ve followed since JAG (ie: all 3x NCIS are spins of the original) and Halfway Witchy dealt with a twist of fate in such a better way. If you’re going to give a reader (or a viewer) a heart-wreck of a cliffhanger or turning of tides, take after Mr Magget. And, yes… I am going to be reading Lady Darby – after you nearly lose your father to a series of TIAs, even a crushed soul can be repaired. Or in my case, a severe case of amnesia occurred because something more important was hitting my reality. NCIS: LA is falling into the category of Castle & Downton Abbey; not everything can be forgiven. Then again, I boycotted Angel after S2 for similar reasons.

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Audiobook Review | “Halfway Hunted: Halfway Witchy, No.3” by Terry Maggert, narrated by Erin SpencerHalfway Hunted
Subtitle: Some Prey Bites Back
by Terry Maggert
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Erin Spencer

Welcome to Halfway; where the waffles are golden, the moon is silver, and magic is just around every corner.

A century old curse is broken, releasing Exit Wainwright, an innocent man trapped alone in time. Lost and in danger, he enlists Carlie, Gran, and their magic to find the warlock who sentenced him to a hundred years of darkness. The hunter becomes the hunted when Carlie's spells awaken a cold-blooded killer intent on adding another pelt to their gruesome collection: hers.

But the killer has never been to Halfway before, where there are three unbreakable rules:

1. Don't complain about the diner's waffles.
2. Don't break the laws of magic.
3. Never threaten a witch on her home turf.

Can Carlie solve an ancient crime, defeat a ruthless killer and save the love of her life from a vampire's curse without burning the waffles?

Come hunt with Carlie, and answer the call of the wild.

Places to find the book:

Also by this author: Halfway Dead, Halfway Bitten, Heartborn,

Also in this series: Halfway Dead, Halfway Bitten


Genres: Cosy Horror, Ghost Story, New Adult Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, Vampire Romance, YA Paranormal Suspense


Published by Terry Maggert

on 10th November, 2016

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours and 56 minutes (unabridged)

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the halfway witchy series:

Halfway Witchy book series collage provided by Audiobookworm Promotions
Digital composite of Wooden table with library background. Halfway Witchy book series collage provided by Audiobookworm Promotions; used with permission.

Notation on Cover Art Design: charmed by two, indifferent towards a third

Unlike my admiration for the first two covers, the third cover was slightly less inclined to be liked by me due to how ‘blood’ was the prime feature of the artwork. I’m not a girl who likes vampires or werewolves – not generally – I do have my exceptions (all girls do) but if you were to cast a wide net about the stories of the supernatural and/ paranormal suspense in general – I’m just not the kind of reader / viewer who digs a lot of er, blood. Unless it’s a medical drama – not that I can handle watching or reading medical dramas anymore – in my teenage years I could filter real life from fictional; as an adult, I’ve lived too many years with medical crises to care to always be locked into a soul-wretch of a fictional one. I even wanted to share the promo badges attached to this blog tour – as some of the quotes were my personal favourites – but again. The ‘blood’ is just too .. er, ick for me!? I always par down the blood – my imagination is tamer than most and more expansive in other regards – in true essence, I dial down the gore. Not that I would consider Maggert’s fiction ‘gory’ no, it’s still within what I consider ‘Cosy Horror’ or even ‘Horror-Lite’ but.. yes. This cover just didn’t win me over. I sort of wished for the continuity of the marker tattoos. That was something wicked original now discarded.

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About Terry Maggert

Terry Maggert

Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I've had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of-- well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You've been warned.

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Posted Friday, 10 February, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Apothecary, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Author Found me On Twitter, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cats and Kittens, Clever Turns of Phrase, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Cosy Horror Suspense, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Faeries & the Fey, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Good vs. Evil, Gothic Literature, Gothic Mystery, Horror-Lite, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Immortals, Indie Author, Light vs Dark, Modern Day, Nature & Wildlife, New Adult Fiction, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Realistic Fiction, Shapeshifters, Small Towne USA, Sociology, Speculative Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Suspense, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, The Natural World, Upper YA Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Vulgarity in Literature, Walking & Hiking Trails, Werewolves, Witches and Warlocks, YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal &/or Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Author Interview | Conversing with Terry Maggert the author of the YA series #HalfwayWitchy!

Posted Thursday, 9 February, 2017 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts! I am happy to announce I have two new showcases about the #HalfwayWitchy series by Terry Maggert alighting on my blog today! I knew even before I finished Halfway Dead, I wanted to interview the author, because of the content of his stories. Halfway Witchy is the kind of paranormal book series which becomes this fiercely addictive guilty pleasure of a read after awhile! You get so attached to Carlie, Gus (her Maine Coon!) and Gran, it’s hard to wait for the moment to arrive where you can soak inside the rest of the series!

It’s unique in how Carlie’s voice is both forthright in deadpan honesty and how realistically resilient she is to overcome everything she’s endured. She picked up the pieces each and every time she finds her life marred by circumstances outside her control but she never loses the hope of what tomorrow could still bring. She chooses to walk the fine line between white and dark magic – where she has to interact with creatures and situations which ebb out of dark magic but she herself, is a practicing white witch.

Mr Maggert has a wickedly delightful sense of humour within the personality of Carlie and he definitely knows how to make fiction read of smartly conceived satire!  He adds in layers of his own spirit and heart to the stories he’s penning whilst craftly his niche within the paranormal and Dark Fantasy branches of literature; brokering between YA, Upper YA and New Adult – depending on your interpretation of the genres. I tend to think he’s more Upper YA & NA given the context of the series, with only the first novel being just within what I’d consider traditional YA. Again reader discretion.

When I sat down to compose my questions, I was trying to sort out what I wanted to know most about the series and how to find a way to let the author shine through the conversation, too. I  hope you will enjoy the selections I’ve made to highlight and appreciate the honesty of Mr Maggert’s answers, as this was quite the enjoyable interview I’ve hosted in awhile.

Sit back with your own cuppa tea and a hearty stack of WAFFLES!Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

the halfway witchy series:

Halfway Witchy book series collage provided by Audiobookworm Promotions
Digital composite of Wooden table with library background. Halfway Witchy book series collage provided by Audiobookworm Promotions; used with permission.

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How did you first decide to give the Diner such a clever addiction to waffles?! What was the impetus to have waffles be the sub-focus of the foodies who loved to dig into the food Carlie cooks?!

Maggert responds: I’m a huge fan of sugar, flour, and vanilla in any ration. Given that, it seemed natural to include something like waffles or pancakes or pie as the keystone of Carlie’s diner. I also rather enjoy the use of stacked waffles as a unique little detail, and naming them “The Carlie” reminds me of my own mom, who was only five feet tall. (She was also an excellent sport about jokes pertaining to her, ahh, lack of height).

I love finding out there was a familial connection behind Carlie’s height – when I first read your reply though, I was thinking of an excellent recipe for bread pudding rather than waffles! lol I do admit – I am a natural bourne baker moreso than I am a chef even though I regularly love concocting new recipes and even run a feature on here called: The Bookish Foodie. The truth of the matter is when it comes to baking, there is such freedom in the choices and in the way you can switch out ingredients as I have a preference for gluten-free vegan baking even though I don’t always get the pleasure of baking non-traditionally, it is something I aspire to do. Esp if I could master baking my own ‘breads’ – ooh, imagine if I could make m own homemade french toast with fresh baked bread!? Aye. #beyondyum So you can see, I definitely understand your motivation to make the diner Carlie’s passion and her beam of balance in life.

Halfway is such a happily quirky small towne – it’s a close knit community and full of eccentrics of a variety of characters; is there a real-life towne which inspired you to create the vibe of Halfway the way in which you did?

Maggert responds:I was born and raised in a city– but I came of age in a small town. The natural array of people are concentrated in a smaller setting, leading to an awareness and acceptance of that which is unusual or odd. I mean odd in the finest way possible– odd is interesting. Odd is us, it’s you, it’s me– it’s the things we consider a part of our day that are utterly alien to someone else. Taken in aggregate, it makes for an excellent fabric on which to write. I revel in the atmosphere of the city, but I’m wholly charmed by the pastiche of weird that comes in a small town.

Interestingly enough, we mirror each other – I am city bourne, growing up in the inner city and then, during high school opted to live in the country; if only to have a better chance at avoiding the issues of city schools during the mid-90s. I love small townes myself – either to live or to visit. There is something about them which is alluring – especially if you are not too far away from a city. You can live a bit more simply but the fact the natural world isn’t so far away is what truly inspires me. I also like how you’ve taken to express the quirks of everyday life in a small towne – using those as the nuanced backdrop of Halfway and in effect, given a charming presence of supporting cast I am unsure if all readers are keeping tabs on, as even before you broached something in this conversation, I was musefully ‘thinking ahead!’ Anyone who has seen ‘Overboard’ with Goldie Hawn will understand the benefit of knowing both sides of how life can be lived. You’ve done such a wonderful job of giving small towne life personality, I think your readers will learn the lesson we’ve been blessed to experience.    

Have you always had a healthy curiosity about the paranormal or did your interest in the paranormal grow as you developed the series as you have a strong command for elements of the paranormal which are easily digestable and recognisable to those who are well-read or versed in this thematic.

Maggert responds: Yes. Here’s why: Think about your childhood. Now, think about how much of it was at the periphery of your senses. If you’re like me (an observer), then there’s a great deal of life in the shadows. I find that fascinating, even scary-velous, and converting that feeling of awkward familiarity to the genre seemed like second nature. Do I think there are vampiric clowns in Central New York? I sure hope so.

Ah, some of my best moments in childhood and my growing years were spent observing – life as it was being lived. I liked to take stock of the subtle details or the curious unknowns of others as they walked through their living hours oblivious to everyone else. You can learn a lot about society simply by ‘looking’ at others as you go through your own routines. However, complimented to the fact we writers are constant observers of sociological behaviour, I also like engaging in spontaneous conversations with people you only ‘meet in the moment’ of where your paths cross. You gain so much by being open to talking to someone new and someone unknown yet of the same environment or surroundings. Sometimes you get lucky and their from out of towne, state or country. You took it into a new layer of usefulness by taking the quirky and mysterious and knitting those into the fantastical through the threads of your stories. Although there is a lot of sociology in your stories – if readers take a more critical assessment of them.

Carlie and Gran have a very close-knit relationship – based on mutual respect and a deep resolve of familial pride to carry on the legacy of their bloodline. What challenged you about bridging their generational gaps but also, the different perspectives and approaches of both women to the mindful art of witchcraft!?

Maggert responds: True story: Had my Nana asked me to swim the Atlantic, I would’ve had my shoes off before she could point east. That woman, as we say here in the South, “hung the moon”. I channeled that reverent love into a relationship in which Carlie sees her Gran as more than just an embodiment of age. My mom passed away twenty years ago, and until then, I thought of her as a personification of “Mom”, rather than Suzie Maggert. Now, years later, I know her as a person, too, thanks to the generosity of memory shared by my family and friends. That’s the foundation for Carlie and Gran. Carlie wants to be great, but she’s young. Gran sees that, and acts accordingly to let her fail when she must. It’s the only way I could make Carlie real, as if she’s a young woman you might actually meet. That’s what I wanted, both to respect my concept of familial love, and to make Carlie and Gran in three dimensions.

I love this answer – and it felt so instinctively ‘right’ to be the inspiration behind Carlie and Gran. You definitely tapped into your own relationship with your grandmother and fused your memories into ‘everyone’s memories’ of their grandparent(s), too. It is a very curious relatable portion of the Halfway Witchy series and the foundation of their relationship is such a lovely bit of personal back-story!

You have a particular quirk of including cross-breeds of species in your Halfway Witchy series – which character did you find the most approachable to write about in Halfway Bitten: Anna or Wulfric? Which of them did you feel was easier to conceptionalise based on their origins?

Maggert responds: ANNA. Oh boy. She’s– well, Anna is anathema to the lives of some women, so she’s easy to write. I’ve met Anna, or her type, and I see how the world treats them. She’s guilty of the most egregious sin of all: she goes her own way. She’s a voluptuary, seeking her own pleasure and damn the consequences. With that in mind, the reactive nature of Carlie just seems to flow.

I thought you might lean towards Anna… you pulled this off so very organically it’s almost as if those passages wrote themselves into the story-line!

You have an organic style of etching out Carlie’s introspective internal world into the narrative of the series – how did you develop her quirky style of where she’s one part humourous and one half seeking a better understanding of the world around her when her spirit feels heavy by her witchy experiences? What did you want readers to takeaway from Carlie’s resolute resolve to carry forward even when adversity struck her so very strongly?

Maggert responds: I’ll answer that by telling you why young soldiers are the best for terrible jobs: they don’t take it personally. Carlie is, in fact, a soldier. She’s at war, pressing for peace with an array of creatures and events that are too discordant to allow in her world. With that in mind, yes, she feels heavy, but in the style of the youthful, she returns to form because ultimately, she is loved. Youth, love, and honor will carry the day, even when the enemy has fangs.

I did observe this in Carlie even before you mentioned it – but I hadn’t proportioned exactly what I was sensing until I read  your response. Yes, she very much is a solider enduring and championing through her struggles to face things mere mortals would shirk away from due to how hideous most of it is and how emotionally crushing it is to be fighting for mankind. You truly did her justice by how you’ve portrayed her and by how you should her endurance to ‘carry on’ and never lose sight of hope, youthful fortitude and the legacy of her kin being honoured through her actions.

 Carlie is definitely connected to the natural world – not merely as a witch but as a soul who feels attracted to the natural world. How important was it to draw out this personal interest of hers whilst grounding her character’s passion for nature as a segue for readers to re-think how they think about the environment around them? As in Halfway Dead there is a beauty thesis surrounding preservation and conservation.

Maggert responds: When I realized that there had been four billion chestnut trees at one time, I felt a pang for something that had been gone prior to my birth. I grew up near the ocean, then, in the forest. I know the effects of humanity, and being a caring steward starts with seeing where you step. It’s simple, but through Carlie’s eyes (and Wulfric), I can describe something that is wild, free, and unknown. I want that sense of wonder, because I carry it with me from the last time I walked under pines that rustled overhead.

Once we are touched by the grace of the natural world and see how small we are in the scheme of what is far more ancient than our own humanity, you look at everything quite a bit differently. Trees are old souls and their spirit leaves an imprint on our own souls as we spend time amongst them. There is something quite grounding about the natural world – almost as if we are not completely ourselves without an anchour of footing in the wild. You truly owned your truth and the wisdom of what you’ve learnt by what you’ve stitched into the series. Readers without the same experiences I can only hope were touched by the depth of what you were trying to express to them.

Moving forward in the Halfway Witchy series – did you choose to cap the series as a quartet or are there more stories in-line after the fourth? Can you share a snippet of what we can expect in the next release?

Maggert responds: I’ve got six in mind, and in the next book I address a myth that I find. . .let’s say curious. I have a friend who playfully said she wanted to be a mermaid. I took that to mean she wants to drag men to their drowning death, which surprised her. Sirens and Mermaids are BAD. In Halfway Drowned, you’re going to see just how bad they can be. . .even when they’re on land.

Ooh, dear ghouls – yes, I know! I learnt about the true natures of both Sirens and Mermaids when I was in the 7th grade – courtesy of a teacher who loved mythology even if at the time I found most of it too droll and boring. There were certain things that just stuck with me and this tidbit was one of them!

How did you find Erin Spencer and what was your initial reaction when you heard her bring Carlie to life!?

Maggert responds: After carefully making an offering to the stars, Erin was revealed to me in a complicated ritual of– just kidding. I heard her voice on another book and the rest is history. She’s stellar, bringing a subtle, playful take on Carlie that is note perfect in every way.

You truly hit narrator gold with Ms Spencer. I love finding new things to share with my readers about how she approaches the series and why I consistently love listening to her voice Carlie and the rest of the cast! I still lament, I might never be able to read this series in print – unless I read and listen to Ms Spencer in tandem! There’s a thought! lol

Which secondary character or background character do you think might be overlooked but should be considered imperative lateron? If any?

Maggert responds: Do not overlook the staff of the diner. That’s all I will say at this time.

(rubs hands together) Ooh, now how did I know you’d say this!? No, seriously. I never overlooked the staff – it was almost as if they were hiding in plain sight for a reason and you never quite overly relate their personal lives in each of the stories either. Just drawing out a general scope of who they are and why they love to work there… hmm…

Gus plays such an important role in Carlie’s life – being a cat lover yourself – how did you pull together the personality of Gus to such a heightened level of realism he appears to meow off the page? Is he a composite of your own cats or was he inspired by one in particular?

Maggert responds: He’s an amalgam of two of mine (Jimmy and Stinker). Let’s face it, cats are remarkably consistent. They’re judgmental, independent, and loving all at once. Gus is all that, simply. . .larger. He’s twenty-five pounds, whereas his ideological forefathers Jimmy and Stinker are around seventeen pounds each. I upgraded for fictional purposes.

I smiled reading this response. Being a cat lover and one who cannot live without cats, I just loved it!

If you had to pick one gift of the paranormal to embrace yourself, what would you choose!?

Maggert responds: Reading minds. Is that altruistic? Not entirely, although I would like to know when people are hurting, so that I might help a bit. Could I profit? Of course. I would know– in advance– when people are going to take the last slice of pizza. We won’t be having any more of that nonsense, now will we?

Telepathy. I could see that. In some ways, you offer this talent to the readers because your stories are internally and externally interconnected to your characters. Almost as if the ‘narrator’ of the story is the telepath and is guiding us all forward through what he observes and intones.

What uplifts your spirit the most when you’re not researching or writing your next story?

Maggert responds: There is a moment,every morning, where I get to wake up my son. It’s electrifying to look at this human and realize he’s ours– sure, he belongs to himself, but for now? His simple presence is a tonic to anything else that might ever trouble me. A sleeping kid is the pinnacle of peace, and that image will go with me for good.

A blessed answer and one I was honoured you shared. I look forward to mumhood; one day I shall celebrate being an Adoptive Mum, until then, I can enjoy my nieces and nephews. Children are beautiful lights of how we carry on in this world long after we’ve left; they carry our hearts, memories and the love we endeared to give them as a way to live fully in an uncertain world. To inspire them and to guide them is not just an honour but a gift.

About Terry Maggert

Terry Maggert

Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I've had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of-- well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You've been warned.

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Thank you, Mr Maggert for sharing a bit of your writerly life with all of us today! And, thank you for giving us such evoking worlds of where humanity and ancient truths walk hand in hand. I cannot wait to see where you round out the Halfway Witchy series – if you do cap it at six novels – I have a feeling the ending might be harder to read than the beginning! Thanks for inspiring so many lovely hours of listening blissitude!

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 This blog tour is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

Audiobookworm Promotions Event Host badge provided by Audiobookworm Promotions

Whilst participating on:

Halfway Hunted blog tour via Audiobookworm PromotionsI will be sharing my review of ‘Halfway Hunted’ tomorrow. My listening hours of this lovely series ran a bit too close to the deadline as my connectivity with the internet was vexed with issues last week and on top of that technologic nightmare, I had other things going on personally which seemed to eat away the free hours I had to listen to this lovely third installment. Therefore, instead of posting my interview and review in tandem, they will be separated a bit by a day. I look forward to your return visit and be sure to *leave your comments!* for Mr Magget in the threads below!

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Halfway Hunted”, collage graphic of the Halfway Witchy series, book synopsis, author biography, author photo, Audiobookworm Promotions badge and the audiobook tour badge were all provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Conversations with the Bookish Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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Posted Thursday, 9 February, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Apothecary, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Author Found me On Twitter, Author Interview, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Cosy Horror Suspense, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Good vs. Evil, Gothic Literature, Gothic Mystery, Horror-Lite, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Immortals, Indie Author, Light vs Dark, Nature & Wildlife, New Adult Fiction, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Realistic Fiction, Shapeshifters, Small Towne USA, Sociology, Speculative Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Suspense, The Natural World, Upper YA Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and Warlocks, YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal &/or Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction