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Mestlven: A Tale from Perilisc

Mestlven: A Tale from Perilisc5 Stars

Mestlven is the latest book in the Tales from Perilisc series by Jesse Teller. I found this to be the best book yet by Teller. The last novel Chaste left many characters in turmoil. This time Teller takes us to the city of Mestlven. Here we learn about Sob and her past. We learn about her obsession with stealing jewels and how she became the deadly assassin that she is. We also discover just how troubled and deep her instability runs and why she became this way. Joining her in this novel from the past is Emily, the young girl in Chaste that she saved and took under her wing, and Sai the swordsman that was her friend and companion on their last adventure. In this story, though, Sai is no longer her friend but an unfortunate enemy that she shares an understanding with. Teller introduces several new characters that the story line focuses on as well, Mort, the priestess of the Pale, Saykobar, a wizard of immense power, and Donnie the Ego, the young man that runs a mass crime ring. Together their destinies intertwine and we see the full savage and cruel world that Perilisc is, where modern decencies are nowhere to be found and suffering is common place no matter what your station in life is.

Mestlven is the town Sob is from, the castle Sorrow Watch, was her home when she went by the name Meredith and was married to Malcolm. She was content in that life, even though her true love Stephan, Malcolm’s brother, was dead. Malcolm loved Meredith and together they had a child, a girl named Megan. This is the baby she always referred to in Chaste. Her life however was destroyed when a group came and murdered her child and Malcolm. This set her insanity into full swing and a series of events that followed lead her to become the deadly assassin she is. Sob returns to Mestlven to exact her revenge on the people that ruined her life. The town of Mestlven is a haven for the depraved, dirty, greedy and perverted. Their perversions know no bounds and Sob means to rid the town of those that soil her home. She shows no mercy to those that made her this person. The goddess of death, The Pale, sends Mort into Mestlven to assist Sob in getting her vengeance. The Pale works in gross and morbid ways, such as taking a disease from one and then sending to another that the Pale wants to inflict pain and suffering on. Mort has the skills to do the bidding of the Pale and her works coincides with Sob’s.

Mestlven is a well composed story line with dynamic characters. Jesse Teller is able to bring their minds to life, their personalities are deep and complex. Sob’s story is heartbreaking and despite her clear insanity the reader can’t help but feel great compassion for her and want to see her achieve her goal of vengeance. So many of the other characters are not what they seem from beginning to end. You’ll end up loving characters your supposed to hate, and characters you trust will betray you. I won’t say that there is a happy ending, but sometimes you settle for just having peace. Teller has composed another great novel and I look forward to reading where the story line of Perilisc will go next.

Pages: 330 | ASIN: B06X8YNCF1

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Fathering the Fatherless

Fathering The Fatherless by [Johnson, Todd]3 Stars

In a charming, short, non-fiction tale we read about the struggles one man has had in terms of understanding and becoming a father. Fathering the Fatherless is written by Todd Johnson who tells us his experience growing up in a fatherless home. He recounts how this impacted his life and shaped the decisions he has made. It is clear that this is a topic that has affected Johnson greatly as he attempts to convey how his life was damaged by not having a father present in his life. Johnson shares statistics regarding fatherless homes and lays out the potential damage that can be done with such a significant absence. Johnson details how he found God and in that Father he was able to come to understand what it truly means to lead and care for children.

The book is a short read and is written very earnestly. Johnson speaks from his personal point of view and lays out his argument that fatherless homes are becoming an epidemic in the United States of America. This is an issue he strongly believes in and he uses quotes from the scripture to remind readers what a father should truly be like. By sharing intimate details of his life Johnson creates a connection with his readers. We learn about his struggles, his poor decisions and the choices he has made in order to better himself. Johnson grew up in a fatherless home and almost inflicted that same pain on his own children. He details how finding God helped him see the potential he was wasting. It is clear that this is Johnson’s mission: his purpose is to enlighten others of their misguided ways and show them a path towards true fatherhood. All he wishes for is a world where children are cared for and loved by their emotionally and physically present mothers and fathers.

While the basis of this book is endearing, the execution needs work. A multitude of spelling mistakes break up poor grammar and fractured sentences. At times it can be difficult to follow what the author is trying to get across to his readers. Statistics are used to support certain points of view, however they’re not referenced properly, which makes it difficult to separate the statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the statistics provided by other sources. This book would greatly benefit from an editor and proofreader. It has a specific point it wishes to share with others, but that gets lost in the poor execution of writing and style.

If you are looking for an endearing, non-fiction read about how fatherlessness has been affecting children in the world, then Fathering the Fatherless by Todd Johnson is a short and sweet read. By seeing past the short-comings the reader can see how much care Johnson has put in to crafting his tale that reads more like an academic paper. At the end of the book there is a delightful interactive section that can help readers identify what fatherlessness is and how it can be addressed. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B06XGHGDT7

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Her Forever Home

Rolynda Tassan Author Interview

Rolynda Tassan Author Interview

Lucy Finds a Home is a short and sweet tale featuring an adorable grey kitten that gets lost and searches for its place in the world. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this lovely children’s story?

Writing has always been a passion of mine. Lucy Finds a Home, came to life for me when my husband and I were enjoying a long weekend in the mountains of WV. One afternoon, while hiking through the mountains (getting my steps in:)) I saw twin fawns, several squirrels, many trout in the river, and even a turtle! That walk inspired me to write about a kitten, we found abandoned earlier that year, and her adventures searching for her forever home.

I love the book’s underlying ideas of perseverance and trying new things. What were some morals you felt were important for this book?

Thank you, I think it is important for children to know that not everything we do works out as planned. But that does not mean we failed. It means we have an opportunity to learn…..it means we have an opportunity to try again. In Lucy’s adventure she finds herself in many situations that don’t work out as she planned.  But this gives her the opportunity to make new friends and learn how they live. Accepting them for who they are, but knowing that she has to be herself, she moves on until eventually she finds her forever home. If she had given up she would have missed out on all of that.

The art in this book is very cute. How did the art develop and what decisions went into picking the right scenes?

I have to give this credit to the illustrator, Bryce Westervelt. He has written and illustrated many books, and I have been a fan of his work for years. His pictures are crisp, simple, and clean. I love that! I sent him the manuscript for Lucy Finds a Home and was thrilled when he said he would be interested in illustrating the book. Since Lucy Finds a Home is a first reader, I wanted pictures that enhanced the story, but did not necessarily tell the story. I sent Bryce some pictures of the “real” Lucy. He was able to capture her look and highlight each scenes primary focus with cute vibrant pictures. When he sent me the preliminary drawings, they were exactly what I wanted. Bryce took it from there and brought the book to life!

What is the next book that you are working on?

Lucy Finds a Home is the first book in the Lucy’s Tale series. The second book, Lucy meets the family is in the works! You can expect Lucy to get herself into some predicaments as she adjust to her new family!

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook

Lucy Finds a Home (Lucy's Tale #1)“Lost in the woods, Lucy meets a fawn, squirrels, a turtle, and even a trout who all invite her to stay with them. But a kitten can’t eat acorns or live in a river. What Lucy wants most of all is a family to call her own.”

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This Human Emotion

Jeanette Gray Author Interview

Jeanette Gray Author Interview

Kiss Billie for Me is a true story based on the trials and tribulations of William Edward Pedder “Billie”, and a secret he took to his grave. Why was this an important book for you to write?

This book was very important for me to write because after my father passed away and I found a box full of letters, I had so many questions that would have stayed unanswered. I had to find out the truth about my grandmother and clear up all the questions and rumours. As it turns out, the book really took on a life of it’s own and is really a lesson about post natal depression and healing from the past.

Kiss Billie for Me focuses on topics such as mental health, family and the importance of understanding the stigma surrounding postnatal depression. What is something you hope readers take away from your story?

I hope that readers can take away the importance of getting treatment for any type of mental health. Not only that but also being aware of mental illness in ourselves and others is a step in the right direction. The past is the past but I think we can all learn and grow form it and become better people.

What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?

My research was extensive. In fact, this book took 14 years to write. Most of the information I gathered was from Ancestry, and Government files which I researched and purchased. I also received some of the information from my father before he died and my mother who is still living, not to mention my own memoirs. So everything in this book is either knowledge gained from printed material or straight from someone who knows.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

My next book will be a self help book delving into the emotion – Grief. I have been through many different aspects of this human emotion and can speak or write about it with a degree of experience and from the heart. The plans for this book are in the first stages, I would say it should be available by next year – it won’t take 14 years anyway!

Author Links: Website

Kiss Billie for Me Xxx: A True Story“In 1929, Betty Trainer, a beautiful, twenty-year-old woman immigrated to Australia from Scotland. Brave and ready for the unknown, she embarked on a new life, including getting married and having two children. But challenges developed, and soon she dealt with an abusive husband and postnatal depression, a tragic mix that led her to kill one of her sons and attempt to kill the other.”

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Exploring Grief

Andrea Darby Author Interview

Andrea Darby Author Interview

The Husband Who Refused to Die follows Carrie as she deals with the loss of her husband and his decision to be cryogenically frozen. The novel is a thoughtful review of grief, love and family. What was the inspiration for this story?

The idea came to me after reading an article in a women’s magazine a few years ago about a young couple, in their 20s, who’d both signed up to have their bodies frozen when they die.

They’d paid a large sum of money to be cryonically preserved, in the hope they can be revived and come back to life at a later date – when science has moved on.

I was intrigued by their story and the motivations and implications of such a radical – and unusual – choice. I’d been searching for an original premise for my debut novel, and I knew this was it.

I’m often drawn to stories in which the extraordinary happens in ordinary lives, and relished the prospect of learning about something outside my own – and most other people’s – experience, yet, at the same time, exploring grief, an emotion that we all face at some point.

I discovered that several hundred people are signed up to be preserved after death and was very excited to learn that, although cryonics has been given the sci-fi treatment in books and films, it’s never been the hook in realistic, contemporary women’s fiction. Dare I say it’s a first?!

My head was spinning with ‘what ifs’ when it came to contemplating cryonics: What if someone I loved passed away and wanted to be frozen? What if there was no funeral? What if I felt I couldn’t grieve in the normal way? What if I thought it was creepy and confusing? What if I couldn’t find closure?
It’s these questions that led me to create Carrie and Dan’s story.

On top of her current troubles, Carrie must also try to deal with her ornery teenager. I felt that their relationship had depth that is rarely seen in novels. How did you approach writing about their relationship and what did you want to accomplish with it?

I have a son who was a similar age to Carrie’s daughter, Eleanor, at the time I was writing the first draft, as well as many friends with teenage children. So my starting point was my own experience and observations of life with a young person going through this turbulent time. I then tried to imagine the extra strain and pressure the mum and daughter relationship would be put under when faced with the difficult and distressing situation Carrie and Eleanor find themselves in.

What kind of research did you do on cryonics for this novel and do you see it as a viable option today for people?

After some initial research on the internet and in the media, I interviewed several people who have signed up to be cryonically preserved to gain a deeper understanding and some first-hand insights.

I was particularly fascinated to hear about how others had responded to their decisions: family, friends, strangers, and the media. It’s an emotive topic and some have endured a lot of negativity.

I also attended a weekend training course with Cryonics UK, a group of volunteers who carry out emergency procedures to prepare bodies for preservation in the UK before they are shipped out to one of the storage facilities in American or Russia.

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding cryonics, particularly here in the UK following the recent heartbreaking case of the terminally ill teenager who had to fight in the High Court for her wish to be frozen after death to be granted.

Many experts believe there’s little or no chance of bringing a frozen corpse back to life, now or in the foreseeable future, but cryonicists would argue that things declared scientifically impossible a few decades ago, like IVF and organ transplants, are now possible, so it’s worth a punt. Either way, I believe that it’s a personal choice.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

I’m working on another contemporary women’s fiction novel, which I hope will be published next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Twitter

The Husband Who Refused to Die by [Darby, Andrea]“Carrie’s no ordinary widow. Husband Dan has died unexpectedly and left behind an extraordinary wish – to be frozen. He believes his life’s simply been ‘suspended’, that he can come back … one day … when science has moved on. He’d hoped his wife would want to do the same. But she doesn’t.

Two years on and Carrie, mum to increasingly truculent teenage daughter Eleanor, tentatively reconnects with an old boyfriend, whose dramatic exit from her life has always been a painful mystery. But their romance is hampered by Carrie’s never-ending personal problems, not least her interfering sister-in-law Sunny, a reflexologist with a soft voice, loud clothes and a bag full of natural remedies. Sunny’s intent on keeping her brother’s memory alive and ensuring Carrie honours his request.

After Dan’s story is resurrected in the news headlines, some distressing secrets from the past are revealed, and Carrie is taunted by someone with a serious grudge.

But are the secrets true? Will she discover who’s behind the malicious acts – and why?

Told with warmth and wit, The Husband Who Refused to Die is a pacy novel with an original premise that casts an unusual light on a story about love, loss, family and friendship.”

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Paradoxical: What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married

Paradoxical: What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married4 Stars

Paradoxical: What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married, by Richard Homawoo, is a book that is summed up by the title. The author gives the exact tools and techniques that anyone, who is hoping for an honest authentic relationship, can use. Homawoo goes chapter by chapter unpacking his title and gives the readers easy morsels of information to digest, while also sharing his experience and knowledge of marriage and relationships. He covers the whole spectrum from knowing “yourself” to knowing what works within a relationship. He does this while still maintaining a very conversational tone, unpacking any jargon or other complicated terminology as it comes up. Overall, it comes across as an accessible book for anyone with passing interest in love.

What struck me first with this book, is how upfront Homawoo is with himself and why he chose to write on this topic. Love is often a complicated and complex thing to understand, especially in the context of marriage, yet here he has managed to simplify it enough to contain it within 200 pages. His writing is very clear and his roadmap is easy to follow as he goes from topic to topic.

Being recently married, I found some of the subject matter rather self-explanatory, if not obvious, but then Homawoo clearly aims to give this book to those who have yet to fall in love and experience it. His approaches to the various topics of compatibility and working with your partner are practical without any hiding the often “messy” reality. He maintains a very honest tone, especially with describing how love can feel at the outset, but also after the “honeymoon” phase as well. Love is no picnic!

Despite Homawoo’s own admittance that he is a shareologist not a therapist or counselor, I appreciated his incorporation of other writers and thinkers, such as Freud and Socrates. If nothing else these earlier thinkers help engage those readers, who may be seeking supplemental reading and could pursue those writers after reading Homawoo’s. It was one feeling I did receive from reading this book, which is that it felt like an introduction. He does mean this book for young couples and those just beginning to understand the often “paradoxical” nature of love and what that entails.

The best piece of advice, for even a seasoned “lover”, was his tips for managing certain aspects of the relationship. These aspects include stress, decision, and conflict management. I believe I’d heard of such things in the past, but Homawoo is able to explain them in a succinct and linked way that makes it part of a greater whole. I would say that most of this is connected to a greater whole, because it is love after all.

I’d recommend this book for high schoolers and college students, especially those in serious relationships. It would even be a good read for those of us in long term relationships, because it is always nice to have a reminder.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B01NBJ68R9

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Lucy Finds a Home

Lucy Finds a Home (Lucy's Tale #1)5 Stars

Lucy Finds a Home by Rolynda Tassan features an adorable little grey kitten who got lost in the forest after climbing out of the basket she shared with her siblings. It is a short and sweet tale about a lost animal searching for it’s place in the world, and comes across many different animals and struggles as it looks for a family and a home to call it’s own. It rings true to classic children’s stories that revolve around discovery and identifying animals, and the kitten Lucy goes through a series of emotions as she tries to find a family with the forest creatures.

This book is good for children because you can show them that hard-work will always bring in good results. Most children books have simple meaning to them, and the story about Lucy is the same. You can teach a lot of different easy to understand life lessons by following Lucy’s quest for finding a home in the world. When the story begins, Lucy is in a basket with her other siblings, and the picture shows that the kittens are free and available to be taken in by a good home. Of course Lucy doesn’t read the sign, and wanders off to go explore.

In her exploration, Lucy comes across animals like turtles and deer, whom all welcome her into their lives. Unfortunately, Lucy finds out that she doesn’t quite belong with the woodland animals as she tries out their different food and living situations. This can be a great way to help children learn more about animals and their habitats, while also encouraging them to be brave and try new things.

The plot of the book is centered around the lost kitten Lucy and her struggles to find a home. You can get your children involved with the storytelling by asking them who they think Lucy should live with and why. As the story gets closer to the end, Lucy has to deal with scary parts of the adventure like a rushing river and losing her dry place to sleep. Remind your children to be brave, just like Lucy was in the story!

This is an adorable, sweet little book that children will love. I liked the adventures that Lucy went on, and how it showed she wasn’t afraid to try new things, but was also brave enough to admit when something didn’t work out. My favorite thing about the story, and that I hope to see featured in the rest of the line of books that Lucy will be featured in, is that she never gave up. This is a great thing to see in children’s books, and as a mom personally, I’m always encouraging my kids to stay strong. Having a kitten like Lucy to remind them of when times get tough is a great thing, and I love that it is shown here!

Pages: 28 | ISBN: 0998331805

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Ronnie and Lennie

RonnieandLennie3 Stars

Ronnie and Lennie are blood brothers in the realest sense of the word—as conjoined twins, they literally share the same circulatory system, connected at the chest for life. Set in the hippie days of 1960s and Woodstock, RonnieandLennie by Herb Schultz depicts the challenges (and sometimes the benefits) of being incredibly close to family at all times, along with the consequences of messing with nature. With a complicated backstory that provides some insight into the twins’ condition and emotional state, this novel takes the reader through a journey of understanding the prison of chronic adjustment disorder through the multitude of Ronnie and Lennie’s dangerous experiences.

Set in the 1950s through the 1960s, Ronnie and Lennie, the titular characters of Herb Schultz’s novel RonnieandLennie, are conjoined twins who grow up attached at the chest, held together by a band of skin that connects their circulatory system and their liver. Connie, their absentee mother, never figures out how the twins ended up this way, but she believes it was caused by fallout from an atomic blast that occurred close to her while she was pregnant. Schultz leaves out details of how the fallout may have caused their condition, but this sense of mystery also helps keep the plot from falling into a strict mystery novel format.

Instead of overcoming her struggles, Connie abandons her children in Statesberry, North Carolina, with her aunt Vera. The backstories of the minor characters throughout the novel left me wanting more, as questions about these characters (and the twins) do not feel resolved by the end. The jolty shifts between past and present made the novel feel more like a collection of vignettes rather than a fluid, linear read. Despite this, though, these backstories did provide a great foreshadowing for the dysfunctional futures of the twins.

While being a moody teenager is rough, Ronnie and Lennie make the best of it— they read and play music together and experience the drug culture of the 1960s. With numerous vulgar sex scenes and excessive drug use, the novel seems to exaggerate this culture; however, they help the reader with understanding the difficulty of being a teenage boy without independence. Resentment grows between the twins, but through fortuitous circumstances, the twins eventually end up separated, finally getting what they’ve always wanted: to have an unattached life.

This freedom comes at a cost— Ronnie is depressed while he’s off at school, and Lennie falls prey to destructive vices. When Ronnie learns more about his mother, he leaves school, only to find himself in perilous circumstances that cause him to go to jail. Lennie has a similar fate, ending up in jail for a period of time himself. Years later, they end up intersecting again in their hometown. Upon realizing they both have chronic adjustment disorder, which has been causing their impulsive behavior and depression for many years, they make a life-altering, permanent decision to never be separated again.

RonnieandLennie is carried by the unique titular characters who stumble through life experiences, sometimes falling really hard. But they ultimately blossom into introspective individuals with a future that will break away from the destructive habits of their pasts.

Pages: 238 | ISBN: 0982351607

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Kiss Billie For Me

Kiss Billie for Me Xxx: A True Story5 Stars

Kiss Billie for Me, written by Jeanette Gray is a true story based on the trials and tribulations of William Edward Pedder “Billie”,  and a secret that he took to his grave. The story begins in 1929 where his mother, Betty Trainer is embarking on a journey of a lifetime. Headed to Australia, Betty soon finds herself quickly embracing a new life with a husband and new family. However, Betty’s new life full of sunshine is soon hit with a terrible storm as she begins to deal with an alcoholic husband and postnatal depression which ultimately leads to decisions that will affect generations to come.

Kiss Billie for Me is a novel that will touch the hearts and soul of every reader. Based on a true story, Kiss Billie for Me focuses on topics such as mental health, family and the importance of understanding the stigma surrounding postnatal depression. The reader will be able to easily imagine life back in 1929 right up until the present day as the storyteller describes scenes from rickety boats to dancing in bars.

Kiss Billie for Me begins in 1929 with a beautiful young woman. Betty Trainer. Betty embarks on an adventure to seek an exciting new life in Australia and after meeting a charming young man, she begins her own little family. However, the lack of family support and loneliness soon creates a recipe for tragedy as Betty develops postnatal depression after having her first son. The story is an emotional roller coaster but provokes conversations around postnatal depression and the reader will find themselves empathizing with people they least expect.

Even though this story is true, it still has surprise twists and turns that will leave the reader breathless and in shock. The unexpected events that occur will leave your mind reeling and you will have to continually remind yourself that this is a true story. I enjoyed the progression of the character “Billie” as you learn about his life and the people within his family circle. Tragedy seems to be a common denominator within this family however their ability to soldier on and find the beautiful side of life is commendable.

I appreciate Jeanette Gray’s ability to be respectful and honest in the recounts of her family’s history. Postnatal depression affects many women and Kiss Billie for Me shows the importance of providing the right type of care and assistance- as the dire consequences can affect generations to come. At times the themes were quite intense and emotive- especially knowing that this was a true story that someone had personally lived.

I can honestly say I feel like a better person for reading this story. It has made me appreciate my life and put in perspective how important relationships and support is within a family unit.  I highly commend Jeanette Gray for sharing her story. As I was reading this novel I began to consider my own family history and the impact of people’s decisions and because of this I would recommend this novel to absolutely everyone!

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B01N7TFFDF

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The Status Update

The Status Update4 Stars

Ever wonder what would happen if you made just one different decision?  The Status Update by Sonia Buck examines the power inherent in just one choice. Christine Reed supports herself and her three children. Her twins, Brian and Brenda, are seniors in high school, and Samantha, her surprise child, is eight. Although Christine wants to keep her children safe and close to home, she allows the twins to attend a college party on New Year’s Eve, believing there is little harm because they are good kids. The repercussions of that night haunt Christine and her family until a miracle occurs through an unlikely source: a defunct Facebook account on an outdated computer. Christine gets to experience the ripple effect of that one decision and the gift of changing it.

Buck focuses on themes that resonate with many readers: choice and grief. Everyone wishes for an undo button in life, but only hindsight can reveal the choices that mattered. Christine and Brian Reed spend ten years of their lives wishing they could go back in time and change the one night that ruined everything. Brian’s alcoholism and Christine’s refusal to treat an illness force them to live in a world of pain, punishing themselves. Both Brian and Christine succumb to their own grief in destructive ways. Anyone with loss or regret can relate to these two characters. Then there is a moment of magic that allows Christine to alter her past and future, and who wouldn’t want that?

The Status Update follows a familiar path but with new twists. A magical moment gives Christine a second chance, and social media is the impetus for this change. The new approach piques the interest and pushes the reader to keep going until the end where Buck unpacks some surprises.

While the plot keeps readers engaged, I felt the character descriptions were doled out mechanically through second hand accounts rather than organically. There is a lovely scene in which Brenda is able to help her younger more analytical sister understand the magic of a fairy tale. The interaction between the two characters felt like a genuine moment, but there were too few of these experiences. I felt I was being told who a character is rather than being shown.

Sonia Buck has a way of leaving tantalizing bread crumbs throughout the story that lead to an entertaining ending. I would say the pacing of the novel was spot on except for one spot; the event that allows Christine to alter her choice and her future is told twice: once as it happens and again as part of a journal entry. This time could have been spent with more anecdotal accounts that make readers fall in love with the amazing characters Sonia Buck has created.

Overall, The Status Update by Sonia Buck is a fun read and is an enjoyable way to pass the time.

Pages: 99 | ASIN: B01F2EXTQU

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