Source: Direct from Publisher

#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].

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781478947479

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


Published by CenterStreet

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

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Frozen Fairy Tales” (anthology) edited by Kate Wolford (by World Weaver Press)

Posted Wednesday, 30 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book by: Did you ever grow curious about a new publisher who produces science fiction, fantasy, and horror genre selections in both novel length and short stories? Did you ever decide to enquire with the publisher you’ve found to see if they were open to book blogger requests to read and review their selections!? This is the situation I found myself in as I was quite mystified by the offerings of World Weaver Press! Such a delightful discovery on my behalf [in 2015] with a website full of inspiring reads across SFF!

Since I started reviewing with World Weaver Press [three years ago in August, 2015] there has been a changing of the guard behind-the-scenes where there is a new owner & publicity team. I am wicked happy to see the legacy and tradition of WWP has been carried forward by this lovely new team! I am honoured to work with them continuing to showcase World Weaver Press through reviewing their titles and hosting future guest features by their authors!

I received a complimentary copy of “Frozen Fairy Tales” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I have been excited to re-focus my readings on titles by this publisher for #WyrdAndWonder:

Immediately after receiving my first anthology from *World Weaver Press*, I knew I had found a SpecLit publisher I could happily tuck inside for ‘life’ without feeling as if I needed to seek elsewhere for the kind of fictionally fantastical stories I was hoping to find peppering through anthologies! The ways in which the editors of this publisher curate their stories within their selected anthologies are bang-on brilliant, as they not only thread together to such a degree of clarity but they honestly speak to the elemental reasons why we *love!* reading Speculative Literature!

The past few years, were especially harder hitting on my family to where my reading life suffered greatly – I had trouble re-aligning within SpecFic for the most part, as despite being one of my favourite genres of interest, I couldn’t get my head and heart to re-align within the worlds being created. Slowly but surely, I’ve re-entered these stories – finding my footing during #RRSciFiMonth within the novella Murder in the Generative Kitchen whilst finding during #WyrdAndWonder, I want to re-shift into their Fantasy releases such as this lovely anthology by an editor I haven’t yet had the pleasure of becoming introduced: Kate Wolford!

There is something appealing about the ‘frozen’ aspect of this anthological thematic – of when the world is bent inside Winter and everything has this altered state of being – Winter itself is daunting and hauntingly ripe for fantastical stories due to the nature of the Season but also, how quirkily this Season attracts Fantasy plots and creatures! It is oft the setting for stories within the genre and happily, I have found a lot of writers have a deep well of creative spirit to get us to reside within their visions!

I keep a ready eye on the anthology releases by this lovely publisher, as the previous serial anthology releases by Rhonda Parrish (mentioned below) are my *absolute favourites* by far, but they have new frontiers of interest which are equally percolating my eye of notice, such as their incredible undertaking of translating the anthology Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World by writers hailing from Brazil and Portugal. Solarpunk itself is a sub-genre interest of my own – I have a healthy appetite for SpecLit which focuses on environmental concerns with a prime focus of renewing energy, green lifestyle practices and a way ‘forward’ rather than ‘backwards’ where we do less harm to our biosphere than we have in the past.

This is what is said on behalf of this anthology:

Imagine a sustainable world, run on clean and renewable energies that are less aggressive to the environment. Now imagine humanity under the impact of these changes. This is the premise Brazilian editor Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro proposed, and these authors took the challenge to envision hopeful futures and alternate histories. The stories in this anthology explore terrorism against green corporations, large space ships propelled by the pressure of solar radiation, the advent of photosynthetic humans, and how different society might be if we had switched to renewable energies much earlier in history. Originally published in Brazil and translated for the first time from the Portuguese by Fábio Fernandes, this anthology of optimistic science fiction features nine authors from Brazil and Portugal including Carlos Orsi, Telmo Marçal, Romeu Martins, Antonio Luiz M. Costa, Gabriel Cantareira, Daniel I. Dutra, André S. Silva, Roberta Spindler, and Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro.

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Likewise, World Weaver Press has also put together their own release: Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers which has me equally excited!

If you feel equally tempted by a pro-positive approach to the ‘future’ here is what is being expressed on behalf of this riveting new anthology which could serve as a lovely companion to the Solarpunk in-translation which released prior to this title:

The seventeen stories in this volume are not boring utopias—they grapple with real issues such as the future and ethics of our food sources, the connection or disconnection between technology and nature, and the interpersonal conflicts that arise no matter how peaceful the world is. In these pages you’ll find a guerilla art installation in Milan, a murder mystery set in a weather manipulation facility, and a world where you are judged by the glow of your solar nanite implants. From an opal mine in Australia to the seed vault at Svalbard, from a wheat farm in Kansas to a crocodile ranch in Malaysia, these are stories of adaptation, ingenuity, and optimism for the future of our world and others. For readers who are tired of dystopias and apocalypses, these visions of a brighter future will be a breath of fresh air.

In a nutshell – the stories being curated by World Weaver Press literally do leave me feeling more appreciative for the positive undertones they are seeking to etch into their anthologies – as even across the board within the Rhonda Parrish anthologies, I am finding the same to be true of her curated stories! This is why during #WyrdAndWonder, I wanted to take a proper moment to highlight their efforts for continuing to seek out and publish the fantastical stories we all adore discovering whilst giving us a heady read to contemplate harder thematics and the underscored realities of our contemporary world!

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#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Frozen Fairy Tales” (anthology) edited by Kate Wolford (by World Weaver Press)Frozen Fairy Tales
by Kate Wolford
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Connor Anderson of Searing Limb Art
Source: Direct from Publisher

Winter is not coming. Winter is here. As unique and beautifully formed as a snowflake, each of these fifteen stories spins a brand new tale or offers a fresh take on an old favorite like Jack Frost, The Snow Queen, or The Frog King. From a drafty castle to a blustery Japanese village, from a snow-packed road to the cozy hearth of a farmhouse, from an empty coffee house in Buffalo, New York, to a cold night outside a university library, these stories fully explore the perils and possibilities of the snow, wind, ice, and bone-chilling cold that traditional fairy tale characters seldom encounter.

In the bleak midwinter, heed the irresistible call of fairy tales. Just open these pages, snuggle down, and wait for an icy blast of fantasy to carry you away. With all new stories of love, adventure, sorrow, and triumph by Tina Anton, Amanda Bergloff, Gavin Bradley, L.A. Christensen, Steven Grimm, Christina Ruth Johnson, Rowan Lindstrom, Alison McBain, Aimee Ogden, J. Patrick Pazdziora, Lissa Marie Redmond, Anna Salonen, Lissa Sloan, Charity Tahmaseb, and David Turnbull to help you dream through the cold days and nights of this most dreaded season.

Published by World Weaver Press in association with Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0692576076

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, High Fantasy, Short Story or Novella


Published by World Weaver Press

on 10th November, 2015

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 243

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Genre(s): Speculative | Fantasy | Folklore

Fairy Tale | Mythology | Cosy and not so Cosy Horror

Anthologies I’ve happily read by World Weaver Press:

FAE edited by Rhonda ParrishCORVIDAE anthology edited by Rhonda ParrishScarecrow Anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish

FAE (see also Review)

CORVIDAE (see also Review)

SCARECROW (see also Review)

→ (forthcoming review) Far Orbit: Apogee | Synopsis

→ Rhonda Parrish anthologies I am itching to read next: SIRENS (Synopsis) + EQUUS (Synopsis)

→ For audiobook lovers who appreciate the art of colouring as they are listening to their audiobooks, I was happily surprised to learn there is a companion *colouring!* book for this series!

About Kate Wolford

Kate Wolford is a university lecturer and anthologist living in the Midwest. Fairy tales are her specialty. Previous books include Beyond the Glass Slipper: Ten Neglected Fairy Tales to Fall in Love With and Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, both published by World Weaver Press. She maintains a blogazine, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, at fairytalemagazine.com.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Wednesday, 30 May, 2018 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cosy Horror, Earthen Magic, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Futuristic Fantasy, Greek Mythology, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired by Stories, Re-Told Tales, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, World Weaver Press

Book Review | “Please Don’t Stop the Music” (Book One: Yorkshire Romances) by Jane Lovering #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 26 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#ChocLitSaturdays banner created in Canva by Jorie.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and I feature Romance & Women’s Fiction authors during @SatBookChat:

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how to promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Please Don’t Stop the Music” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

a bit of back-history on this sequence of roms:

I started reading the Yorkshire Romances with the sixth installment of the series: Can’t Buy Me Love as I have been wanting to start reading the stories by Ms Lovering for quite an age at that point. I felt it was a good place to start – to get familiar with her quirky humour & become acquainted with her style! I had intended to read more stories within this series and am thankful I can pick up where I left off this Spring through my readings of Hubble Bubble and Please Don’t Stop the Music.

As you’ll notice, these are all one-off stories which can be read out of sequences as it is not a series where each story conjoins into the new one – the setting is what unites the stories together, therefore, despite my preference of reading ‘series’ in order of sequence, in this particular instance I get to have the happy folly of moving in and out of the series per each story which feels it ought to be ‘read’ next vs having to stick to the order of publication!

The Yorkshire Romances in sequence:

{please note: all of these are stand-alone; only the setting unites them}

To properly recap my ruminative pre-reading thoughts about the series,

kindly visit my Spotlight w/ Notes!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I enjoyed my readings of ‘Hubble Bubble’:

Quite immediately I was charmed by Hubble Bubble – how you can grow lost in the humour and wit of Ms Lovering whilst trying to acquaint yourself with the current cast of characters. They’re blessedly flawed, genuinely open about their character traits and otherwise, have had the pleasure of random moments bridging them all together in a way that truly does feel believable.

There are some seriously lovely comedic moments sprinkled throughout this novel – such as the moment where Megan brought her newly beloved dog (Rufus) with her to the woman’s group and scared the ever-loving minds of the cats therein something crazy! Laughs. The wit and satire is peppered round the edges of the headier subjects being explored – such as Kai’s search for identity but really what he’s keen on finding most is emotional wellness, forgiveness and a proper sense of who wants to be rather than the bloke he’s become by default. Megan by far makes me giggle – she has the most outrageous adventures and yet, she lives a rather ordinary life! She just happens to have the luck of being in the midst of a particular drama and the outcomes of such is quite hilarious!

For all the levity of this Rom Com, it is more of a dramedy due to the journals of Kai’s self-examination of his soul and his emotional health. There are a lot of darker shades of relationship issues being explored including self-projecting pessimism and the ways in which people choose to self-destruct their connections before they allow themselves the joy of living in the moment of seeing a relationship develop organically. There are moments where I truly can say the context was difficult to read – as Kai truly pushed me a bit for what can be accepted for someone whose going through as much as he is – the hardest part truly is why he allowed himself to spiral into such a state of self-hate and loathing for a mother he never knew and for circumstances he never was explained. As this personally set-up a sequence of his patterns in life which were hard to read, as on one hand you can agree his past is hard to put to rights by heart and mind but why would that kind of past lead to his other behaviour issues is harder to reconcile.

Equality in Lit:

Nicholas, Holly’s brother has special needs – yet the compassion and the protectiveness of Holly’s presence in his life is refreshing. In some ways, I think her brother gave her purpose but also, an air of distrust of men as she didn’t want to complicate her life further than it had already become by being her brother’s keeper.

Kai shows the darker side of adoption – where due to different experiences and life moments within his after adoption care in foster homes, he truly had deep seeded emotional angst to where it affected his perspective on women and life in general. He had a lot of psychological issues – all of which are openly disclosed and discussed.

Holly on the other hand is one of the rare examples of how women can purposely disconnect their emotions from their rational mind. She had a hard road due to Nicholas but it’s how she approached living outside of having a special needs sibling which truly became the backbone of the story alongside Kai’s own journey towards self-healing. The two of them had dual purposes in the story-line and thereby expanded the depth of what Ms Lovering was trying to say and accomplish by showing their sides of how toxic you can live through your relationships.

-quoted from my review of Hubble Bubble

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

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Posted Saturday, 26 May, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, Brothers and Sisters, ChocLitUK, Contemporary Romance, Family Life, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Modern Day, Romance Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Siblings, Vulgarity in Literature

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Hero’s Best Friend: an Anthology of Animal Companions {edited by} Scott M. Sandridge

Posted Sunday, 20 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press – whilst I participated on the blog tour in [2014] for this title, I was unable to read the stories for review until this year [2018]. I received a complimentary copy of “Hero’s Best Friend” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What originally drew me into wanting to read this lovely anthology:

Hero’s Best Friend

What I appreciate the most about this particular collection of stories is having each of them capture the essence of a genre-bending sphere of literary delight! They are representative of their actual genres, but they sound as though they give a bit more than what those branches of literature might usually encompass at the very same time! I love fiction that takes on new meanings and new depths, whether I am soaking into a book, a short story, or even whilst immersed into the latest Doctor Who episode I am discovering for the very first time! I find that the series is the epitome of ‘genre-bending’ and brilliance of execution on captivating a person’s attention at the jump-start beginning!

Sandridge and I share a common ground for appreciating animal companions, as his top three choices match my own, as I quite literally rented “Benji: the Hunted” from the rental shoppes so often they nearly gave me the VHS tapes for free! I say ‘nearly!’ as they never could seem to get permission from corporate to do so! Oy! I was simply captivated by Benji, for the same reasons I loved “The Adventures of Natty Gann” in which Natty’s companion is a wolf; “The Neverending Story” who as the wickedest dragon on the planet! (another film in common, he mentions this elsewhere on the tour!); the Mountain Family Robinson trilogy where Crest protected the family; previously I have mentioned my affection for “Pete’s Dragon”; and many others I am failing to draw to memory today! What I appreciate about Jack London is his ability to get your heart attached to a wolf in a way that is different than Natty Gann but is a bit similar to “Due South”; a tv series which features a deaf wolf who takes interest in protecting a Mountie!

From our beginnings of noting animal companions and animals in fiction, we differ a bit on our paths after childhood because I am suspecting the video games are not the ones I’d personally play myself! I’m always going to have half a step and foot on the family and children side of the ledger, not only because I’m a future foster-adoptive Mum, nor even because I’m an Auntie at present, but because I tend to like the innocence in stories for younger generations. I’d wrap myself into a family film far quicker than I would an intense video game! I am a gamer, a title I apparently acquired at three, as I’ve been playing games on the computer since I first started using one! Wayy back when Atari was all the rage and long before Nintendo or the ability to borrow my neighbourhood friend’s Sega Genesis so I could play with Sonic, the quirky hedgehog!

The best news of all, no matter how we gather our passions for animal companions, nor where we wander to find the companions that mean the world to their masters, we each have our own ‘coveted niche’ in the genres we appreciate reading and watching! And, I for one will always celebrate the uniqueness of our individual passions if we can sometimes draw a common thread towards each other and celebrate the love of story-telling which ignites a fever pitch passion for our imaginations!

-quoted from my Spotlight on behalf of Hero’s Best Friend

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#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Hero’s Best Friend: an Anthology of Animal Companions {edited by} Scott M. SandridgeHero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions
by (Editor) Scott M. Sandridge, Herika R. Raymer
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Direct from Publisher

How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you're a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you! So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero's Best Friend.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1937929510

Also by this author: , Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, Gifts of the Magi

Series: Anthologies from Seventh Star Press


Also in this series: Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy, , A Chimerical World, Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions


Genres: Fantasy Fiction


Published by Seventh Star Press

on 12th February, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 472

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Trade paperback & Ebook

Genres: Short Story | Fantasy | Animals in Fiction

Converse on Twitter: #HerosBestFriendAntho & #7thStar

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Stories inside: Hero’s Best Friend:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”

Frank Creed: “Dusk”

Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”

Steven Donahue: “Grit”

Jason Cordova: “Hill 142”

Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”

Essel Pratt: “Brothers”

Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”

S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”

Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”

Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”

David Wright: “Wind of Change”

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”

Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy: “The Restless Armadillo”

Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”

Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

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About (Editor) Scott M. Sandridge

Scott M. Sandridge Photo Credit: Stephen Zimmer, taken on a book convention floor.

Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

Photo Credit: Stephen Zimmer, taken on a book convention floor

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Posted Sunday, 20 May, 2018 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Action & Adventure Fiction, An Editor Point of View, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Convention, Bookish Discussions, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, Imaginarium, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Science Fiction, Seventh Star Press, Short Stories or Essays, Speculative Fiction, The Writers Life, Tomorrow Comes Media, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Writing Style & Voice

Book Review | “Idyll Fears” (Book Two: of the Thomas Lynch Novels) by Stephanie Gayle

Posted Friday, 4 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Borrowed Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of “Idyll Fears” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. The copy of “Idyll Threats” I borrowed via interlibrary loan through my local library I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

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On why I thought I’d enjoy this series and how I approached starting to read it:

As this is a series in progress, I wanted to seek out the first novel in the series Idyll Threats – seemingly easy at first, as it was simply a matter of queuing into my ILL-cat (ie. Interlibrary loan catalogue) to fetch a copy and then awaiting the book to arrive. However, the trouble ensued shortly after it was borrowed as for whichever reason, the copy I had been sent by the lending library not only smelt oddly but it was difficult to read – the ordour and the condition of the pages were quite horrid – I could barely handle reading a few passages, so I skipped around a bit in the opening chapters, trying to ascertain an instinct of insight into the lead character: Thomas Lynch before returning it to the library with a critical complaint on its condition.

What I gathered in my short readings was a man who reminded me of Jesse Stone but without the warm sympathetic personality; Lynch was hardened, not just due to life but due to the fact he was living within a region where there is staunch prejudice towards different lifestyles – as he’s an openly gay police chief, you can well imagine the difficulties he faces on the job and in his down-time.

I was a bit concerned with the undertone of the series, as at first reading, I noticed the series is ‘clipped and short’ in both temper and style. It’s hard to put it into words, but this had a decidedly ‘different’ approach to telling a police procedural story. In many regards, I was aching for Jesse Stone to walk into scene as Lynch himself is hard to approach – his personality is edgy at best but it’s his dedication to the job and to the citizens he’s protecting which does (sort of) win you over. I say this as even before I picked up Idyll Fears, I had a keen suspicion what I forethought about the series was ill-placed, as this could soon become a DNF for me instead. Still. Despite the false-starts, I kept trying to begin reading it – to see if I could gleam insight into who Lynch is and to gather a better feel for how Gayle plots us through his life.

In essence, wherein I warmed immediately to Marjorie Trumaine, Anna Blanc, Hiro Hattori and even Samuel Craddock – the four investigators I love most from Seventh Street Books authors, Lynch unfortunately was a hard person to feel inclined to know more about simply because I found the series more than a bit off-putting by how it was told and developed. It had nothing to do with Lynch being openly gay either – as I regularly read LGBTQ+ stories wherein there are many lead characters who are gay or lesbian including my beloved sleuthing series spearheaded by the lovely Willa Cather and Edith Lewis. No, it has to do with tone, delivery and the undercurrents of how this series is set to life – it just didn’t jazz well with me to be honest.

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Book Review | “Idyll Fears” (Book Two: of the Thomas Lynch Novels) by Stephanie GayleIdyll Fears
Subtitle: A Thomas Lynch Novel
by Stephanie Gayle
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL), Direct from Publisher

Police Chief Thomas Lynch investigates the disappearance of a six-year-old boy with a serious medical condition while coping with disrespect from townspeople and colleagues who don’t like the fact that he’s gay.

It’s two weeks before Christmas 1997, and Chief Thomas Lynch faces a crisis when Cody Forrand, a six-year-old with a life-threatening medical condition, goes missing during a blizzard. The confusing case shines a national spotlight on the small, sleepy town of Idyll, Connecticut, where small-time crime is already on the rise and the police seem to be making mistakes left and right. Further complicating matters, Lynch, still new to town, finds himself the target of prank calls and hate speech that he worries is the work of a colleague, someone struggling to accept working with a gay chief of police.

With time ticking away, Lynch is beginning to doubt whether he’ll be able to bring Cody home safely…and whether Idyll could ever really be home.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781633883574

Genres: Crime Fiction, LGBTQIA Fiction, Police Procedural


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 5th September, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 320

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Stephanie Gayle

Stephanie Gayle Photo Credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta

Stephanie Gayle is the author of Idyll Threats, the first Thomas Lynch Novel, and My Summer of Southern Discomfort, which was chosen as one of Redbook’s Top Ten Summer Reads and was a Book Sense monthly pick. Gayle has also published stories and narrative nonfiction pieces, including two Pushcart Prize nominees.

Photo Credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta

The Thomas Lynch Novels:

Series Overview: A gay police chief in small-town Connecticut must deal with close-minded attitudes and threats to his career while he investigates serious crime.

Idyll Threats by Stephanie GayleIdyll Fears by Stephanie Gayle

Idyll Threats | Book One | Synopsis

Idyll Fears | Book Two

Idyll Hands | Book Three | Synopsis ← forthcoming release September, 2018!

Converse via: #ThomasLynch + #Mysteries

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Posted Friday, 4 May, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, Prometheus Books, Small Towne USA, Texas, Vulgarity in Literature