Fated: Cinderella's Story Review (Destined #1)

Fated: Cinderella's Story (Destined, #1)

Ella is the only non-mage in her household. Her stepmother Zel has to stay hidden because she is a powerful mage. She was under the control of someone who held her True Name and was forced to kill many with her powers in the past, so she has many enemies. Now that Zel has two twin daughters who are also mages, she has to make sure that she and her girls stay hidden. If Zel is arrested, the family will be torn apart. So Ella does all in her power to keep the bakery running to support her family. She is also studying at the Royal Academy to try to get a better job to move her family out of the small apartment at the bakery. A mage named Weslan shows up at the bakery looking for protection, and his staying at the bakery threatens Ella’s family’s safety. When a bomb goes off during her final exam and she is hurt, her chance for graduation goes out the window. Ella has to pick up the pieces of her life and find a new way to protect her family.

I have run this blog for 3 years now, and I have read countless fairytales and fairytale retellings throughout my entire life. Something just always draws me to these stories of love and fantasy. I can say, hands down, that this is the best fairy tale retelling series I have ever read. At first I was thinking it would be second only to Court of Thorns and Roses, but the other books in this series continued the fairy tale retelling theme, and it quickly bumped its way up to first place for that category.

Ella isn’t your typical Cinderalla. Zel isn’t cruel to her. She isn’t forced to work for her stepsisters. She does all the work that she does simply because she loves her family and would do anything for them. She wants to get a job by graduating from the Royal Academy so that they can live more comfortably. She would work every day that she lived if it meant that they were safe, and she wouldn’t let anyone get in between her and her family. This is what made her so admirable to me. Family came first, in everything, and she was willing to work hard to keep them safe, even if it stressed her out.

I would also say that this fairy tale retelling deviates some from the original story, which I enjoyed a lot. There is an entire story about Mages versus those with no powers. Those who hold the True names of mages can force them to do their bidding, which means that the Mage population is greatly oppressed in this world. This story is woven delicately in and out of the original Cinderella tale, to make a unique and powerful one of its own. This is what made it my favorite fairytale retelling of all time, and that’s how this book dragged me out of my reading slump.

This story flows perfectly from scene to scene. I don’t believe that the POV ever shifted from Ella, but if it did, it wasn’t confusing in any way and fit right into the rest of the story. There were no dead points in the story or characters that I found to be irritating, so everything made for a very pleasant read.

I won’t spoil anything else as this book was a quick read for me and I don’t want to give any major plot points away. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy novels or who wants to read a fairytale retelling. This entire series is free through Kindle Unlimited, and book 6 is coming out this year, so I am extra excited to see what Kaylin Lee has in store!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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A Journey of Flames and Love Review (Hearts of Love and Faith #1)

A Journey of Flames and Love: Hearts of Love and Faith Series: Book 1

Have you ever honored the legacy of a loved one? Were you willing to do whatever it took to achieve that goal?

My mother was my world and it won’t be easy to find the Firebird which was her final wish. I’ve got fallen angels seeking the bird because they believe it to be a powerful weapon of chaos and ruin. And I’ve got a hunter on my trail trying to capture my heart. 

My name is Audry Duvessa. I’m a witch from the world Kimmeria. My world borders the Realm of Darkness. Before my mother died in the Civil War of Eight, she left me a letter detailing her last request.

Roei Shurwud is a hunter from the world Terradora. His world borders the Realm of Light. Hunters have dedicated their lives to protecting the light from darkness. They hunt magical beings such as me, as well as dark creatures such as vampires or werewolves. The hunter has chosen to join me on my quest. He feels guilty for causing my family to perish during the Civil War of Eight. Roei may have led the troops, but he didn’t fire the deadly shot. Someday, Roei must forgive himself.

I must find all seven of the Firebird’s tail feathers in three days before the fallen angel Apollo does. Legend states the Firebird is a weapon of chaos and ruin. Apollo and his lackeys want to seek revenge against God for kicking them out of heaven after the first holy war. Our world has become their battleground because God’s word is law here. So, the Fallen want to make a statement by destroying God’s creation. 

Now, it falls to me and Roei. I will complete the quest and honor my mother’s legacy. And together, we must stop Apollo from destroying the worlds with darkness.


I was so excited to read this book that I read the entire thing in one sitting. This book is a whirlwind tale of love, war, and adventure as Audrey races against time with Roei in order to try to get all of the Firebird’s feathers in time.

The story starts with Audrey’s parents’ death. Roei and Audrey were both younger here, and they were fighting on different sides of the war. This was probably my favorite overall part of the book, as I really got to understand what Audrey was a part of. It was sad to see her have to watch her parents die, but I was glad that I got to see it from both Audrey and Roei’s perspectives.

Unfortunately, there were many things that I ended up not liking about this story. For starters, it was too fast. One minute we were talking about Audrey’s parents dying, the next we are talking about her trying to find three kids from her ex-husband and 20-30 years have gone by. And I didn’t even figure out that 20-30 years had passed until the end of the story where the ages of the children started to add up. This is a rather large timeskip for a book that is only around 134 pages long.

I felt that this was more of an insta-love story rather than a gradual buildup, which was a bit confusing. This should have been more of a hate to love gradual story or series, but it just wasn’t. Enemies to lovers in a few minutes.

The action scenes in this book were fairly suspenseful. A few were really too short, but most kept me on the edge of my seat. This did keep me interested until the end, and I still enjoyed the overall story.

Overall, I think that this book could have been amazing if the author would flesh it out a little bit and not make the characters move as fast. For now, it is still a pretty good novella, but it could be great.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review. 

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 books

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The Princess Diaries Review + Movie Comparison (Princess Diaries #1)

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The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #1)
Mia Thermopolis is pretty sure there’s nothing worse than being a five-foot-nine, flat-chested freshman, who also happens to be flunking Algebra. Is she ever in for a surprise.

First Mom announces that she’s dating Mia’s Algebra teacher. Then Dad has to go and reveal that he is the crown prince of Genovia. And guess who still doesn’t have a date for the Cultural Diversity Dance?

When I was around 10 years old, I saw the Princess Diaries movie on TV. I instantly fell in love with it, and I adored Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. When I saw the first three books in the series at a local bookstore a few years ago, I decided to pick them up. It took me forever to get around to reading them, but I had high hopes for them. Boy, was I disappointed.

For starters, the book is very, VERY different from the movie. Here are a few of the major differences.

The story takes place in Manhattan instead of San Francisco, which should have made the story more relatable to me as I live fairly close to Manhattan.

Mia’s father, the prince, isn’t dead like he is in the film. He is infertile because he has had testicular cancer, but it hasn’t killed him. At least, cancer hasn’t killed him yet, I don’t know if he ends up actually dying later in the series. This changes the story entirely. Now, when Mia’s mother dates someone else, she also has to deal with her ex-boyfriend being around a lot as he tries to teach her daughter to be a princess. He also just has a bunch of random girlfriends that Mia has to deal with every time she went to visit him. In the movie, Mia’s father is portrayed as a “good man,” and the cause of his death is not discussed.

Another difference is that Mia knows her grandmother, and her grandmother is portrayed as a horribly mean woman. Julie Andrews may have been strict in the movie, but she wasn’t a bitter old woman. She was the one who told Mia that she was a princess in the movie and the one who supported her. I hated the grandmother in this version, and even if I did read the rest of the series, I don’t think that she will redeem herself. One of the reasons why I enjoyed the Princess Diaries movie was because of Mia’s relationship with her grandmother, as she taught her grandmother how to be a regular person instead of a royal. That would never happen in this series, as Mia doesn’t have a good relationship with her grandmother at all.

So those are the main differences, and some of the issues that I had with the book at first. Now, let’s talk about the characters in the book.

Mia was honestly annoying even before she was a princess and got her “makeover.” Her “inner diary dialogue” irritated me as I was reading this book the entire way through. On page 7, she says “How come nice people like Princess Diana get killed in car wrecks but mean people like Lana never do?” When I read that, I thought, “Wow, that’s harsh.” But I continued on, thinking she would get better eventually. We’ve all thought mean things about bullies before. 4 pages later, she says that she hopes that she notices if the school “hot guy” starts sexually harassing her someday. Sexual harassment is not something that most girls wish for, but I let it go and continued to read.

What automatically made me lose most of my respect for her was when she talked about the Blind Guy. This Blind Guy had a game of asking women to walk him across the street, just to feel them up on the other side and pretend it was an accident. When I heard this, I automatically went “Wtf?” Like, I’ve been to New York many times and have never seen anything like this happen, but even if it did, someone would report it. Especially if he was doing it repeatedly to women of all ages, including underage high schoolers. But Mia doesn’t feel bad about this in any way, no, she says “Just my luck, the only guy who’s ever felt me up (not that there’s anything to feel) was BLIND.” Like, what 14-year-old girl thinks that after ACTUALLY being sexually harassed/assaulted by a grown man on the street.

Then there were other small things about Mia that irritated me throughout the book. Her dad gives her five bucks to tip the bathroom assistant, she only gives the assistant one because she feels she deserves 4 because her allowance every week is only 10. This was in 2000, and you could get a full fast-food meal for less than 5 bucks!

Lilly is Mia’s best friend who runs her own TV show. A running joke throughout the book is how she has a foot fetishist named Norman as a stalker, who keeps sending her gifts to get her to take off her shoes during the show. I don’t know how someone can not take a grown man stalking a 14-year-old seriously, but in this book, it’s just a joke. I could stand Lilly in the movie, but I didn’t like her that much in this movie. She was so addicted to creating her show that she would get mad at Mia whenever Mia couldn’t help her make an episode. Mia never actually blew Lilly off, she never did anything to sabotage the show, she was just occasionally busy with her princess duties. But this didn’t matter to Lilly. If you weren’t 100% beside her in everything she did, you were against her, even if you were her best friend. I couldn’t stand this character trait, and I honestly wished that Mia would just make new friends and drop Lily.

The two things that I actually liked about this book were Tina and Josh. Josh is the love interest and school hot guy, and the main focus of the movie is how he goes out with Mia one time. This is not the main focus of the book, thank God, even though the scene basically plays out the same way. If I had liked Mia as a character, I would have enjoyed getting to know her more instead of just focusing on her going out with someone.

Tina was also a really unique character, with her overprotective father and teen romance novels. She had a bodyguard like Mia, and Mia decided to become her friend whenever Lilly decided to stop speaking to her. I think that she was honestly my favorite character in the series, as she was always supportive of Mia and never super-judgemental like Lilly. I hope that Mia and Tina stay friends throughout the series, and don’t end up having to go their separate ways.

Overall, I definitely would not recommend this book, just watch the movie. Mia in this novel is not a good role model for teen girls, and she is not even a realistic 14-year-old. And trust me, it does not get better. This was only about a month of story, as the next book picks up in October of the same year!

Overall Rating: 1.5 out of 5 books

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Jilliand Review

Jilliand“Bruised, bloody, and barely dressed, she knew it was over. She had no doubt the Vikings would search for her if she tried to run—especially now, with their companion lying dead. It would be dark soon, and she had no idea where she could go or hide. Jilliand knew they would come for her. The Vikings were not likely to let this go—especially it being an attack by a woman. She was defeated. Weak and shaking, she stared at the man’s body. I think tonight I die. 

 

To me, this book started off promising, but then it went down from there. We started with Jilliand being imprisoned by her father, then she worked with Rurik on a Viking ship, then she lived with Rurik, and then even more. The story continued to crawl along, but as soon as I fell into one part of the story, it quickly switched to the other. 

The story was definitely very interesting, even though nothing good seemed to happen to Jilliand for quite a while. After a few chapters, I wanted SOMETHING good to be able to happen to Jilliand. But every single time something good happened to Jilliand, something bad happened to take away what small happiness she had. I know that this is supposed to be the medieval times with the Vikings or “pagans” vs. the Christians, but I highly doubt that there would be any one person that simply had the worst luck and couldn’t have a single bit of happiness. She is just abused so much in this book, and I felt so bad for her by the end.

The storyline with Rurik was romantic, but it was definitely tumultuous. This is not a strictly romance story, the romance is really just a side plot to the main story.

The plot of this book did not move smoothly, as Jilliand got older and there seemed to be some major timeskips throughout the story. There was so much just jam-packed into this one book that I didn’t get the chance to be connected to any of the side characters. I barely got to know Rurik, with him always being away and running the Viking army.

My favorite character in this book ended up being Rurik’s mother. She is so sweet to Jilliand, and wanted to help her in every way possible. She became the mother that Jillinand never had, and helped her to heal after the years of abuse she had endured at the hands of her father and the other people whom she encountered. She was the only one that I felt that I got to “know” after reading the book.

I would not necessarily recommend this book. It is definitely a unique fantasy novel, but it is such a dry read that it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience. I also wish that I had gotten to know the side characters more, but the writing style made it difficult.

I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The Legend of Greg Blog Tour Plus Review and Book Trailer!

 

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Book Trailer!

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A boy discovers his destiny could totally stink in this riotously funny fantasy-adventure

Risk-averse Greg Belmont is content with being ordinary. He’s got a friend–that’s right, just one–at his fancy prep school, and a pretty cool dad (even if he is obsessed with organic soaps that smell like a mix of salted pork and Icelandic bog). The problem is, Greg isn’t ordinary . . . he’s actually an honest-to-goodness, fantastical Dwarf!

He discovers the truth the day his dad brings home a gross new tea–one that awakens bizarre abilities in Greg. Then a murderous Bro-Troll kidnaps his dad and Greg is whisked away to the Underground, where Dwarves have lived for centuries right beneath the streets of Chicago.

With the help of some awesome new friends and a talking ax, Greg learns all about the history of the Dwarves, which has been marked with tales of epic failure since the dawn of time. However, the return of the magic they once wielded means big changes are afoot, escalating tensions with the Dwarves’ sworn enemy: the Elves.

Brimming with humor and action, Chris Rylander’s The Legend of Greg turns dwarf lore on its head, delivering an adventure readers won’t be able to resist.

This is definitely the next Percy Jackson. I was starting to read this book, but immediately I fell in love with Greg. He is relatable to most pre-teens. Even though his dad has some quirks, he secretly loves those quirks and has a great relationship with him. Edwin is his best friend who is considered to be “perfect”, but he loves being able to be with Greg because it allows him to just be himself. His friends expect him to love sports, but he secretly loves chess and bad puns even more. A good portion of the book is spent explaining their friendship, which was important in my opinion. Middle schoolers sometimes try to be “perfect” and live up to what their friends expect. Greg is imperfect and has a quirky father, but he accepts this fact and doesn’t try to constantly change himself. He doesn’t have to wear a mask, because no one expects anything from him.  Edwin is “perfect,” but because of this, his popular friends expect him to act a certain way. He likes being able to take off the mask with Greg.

Back on track to the Dwarf story. It actually takes a bit of time before Greg is fully thrown into the main plot of “Yer a Dwarf!” This was important to me because it gave me the chance to see who he was as a person before he is given his powers. After he is told the truth about his heritage, he is thrown into the Underground, the world of Dwarves beneath Chicago.

This is really where the world-building comes into play. It wasn’t amazing world-building as some things were just not described. For example, I could not easily visualize where Greg was when he was in the Underground. However, this is a middle-grade book. Most of these books contain little to no description of what isn’t action. I wasn’t drawn out of the book or bored, so this didn’t affect the quality of the book. However, if you are into heavy scenic worldbuilding, this might not be the story for you. If you are here for the building of the history of the world, this book will not disappoint you. You will receive knowledge of Dwarven history, just as Greg learns it from the adults in the Underground. I found this method of storytelling to draw me into the story better than Greg just stumbling upon random tidbits and facts because it gave the Dwarven community more of a family feel.

I won’t spoil anything, but I have to say that I was shocked when Elves were included in the story. It felt like everything changed, and I could relate it to things currently going on in the world that Middle-Grade readers might be exposed to.

The plot of this story is not slow by any means, but I did feel myself becoming connected with Greg and everyone he encountered along his journey. This is not a simple book just for middle schoolers, I found myself enjoying it as a mostly YA/NA reader!

This book did not have any editing or formatting errors that I noticed even though I was reading an advance version. I would assume that your current copies will also be as spotless as mine!

Get ready to be sucked into a world full of Dwarves, magic, Elves, and other creatures in Rylander’s new story: The Legend of Greg!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new Middle Grade/YA fantasy novel with unique characters, action-packed scenes, and meaningful storyline.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Chris Rylander.jpgChris Rylander is the author of the Fourth Stall saga and the Codename Conspiracy series. A fan of chocolate, chips, and chocolate chips, he lives in Chicago.

 

 

Father Figure Blog Tour Plus Review

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Publication Date: April 2, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town, and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Struggling to survive in a claustrophobic, unforgiving world, they embark on a journey to overcome all the pain, disappointment, and horror of their experiences.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown, connect with others, and fall in love. Contemplating an impending loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia suffers devastating, life-altering tragedies. No matter where she turns, someone or something always steals her hope of finding happiness, protection, and love.

Brianna Porter, a sassy yet angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to determine her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. All the confusion stems from desperately needing to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, but an unexpected discovery of a journal leads Brianna to a shocking revelation about her missing parent. Unfortunately, by casting the net to find him, she’s unleashed a tragic history that was meant to stay buried and might now completely change everyone’s futures.

Through alternating chapters set two decades apart, each girl’s plight unfolds revealing the parallels between their lives and the subsequent collision that is bound to happen. In an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense, fate intervenes forcing someone to make a dreadful decision that will leave permanent scars.

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My Review:

This book will absolutely drag you in and will not let you go until you finish it. I started this book one morning and was finished with all 400+ pages by the next afternoon, even when taking breaks from reading to do other activities.

Both Brianna and Amalia have their own unique stories to tell. Brianna is trying to find out about her father, and decide whether or not she wants to date her best friend Shanelle. Amalia wants to start making her own life and her own decisions away from her abusive mother, and she is attracting the attention of her brother’s best college friend at the same time. She has to fight with herself between what she wants to do and what her mother wants her to do.

Out of the two storylines, I definitely liked Amalia’s better. I felt that she was more mature in a way, and I was definitely more sympathetic towards her. Brienna was very pushy towards her mom about her father even though it may not change anything and even though her mom was clearly uncomfortable with talking about it. She was quite wishy-washy throughout the book and really hurt those who were around her. I didn’t dislike either of their stories as nobody is perfect, but Brianna did rub me the wrong way with some of the things that she did.

I did enjoy seeing Brianna mature throughout the novel. It would not have gone the same way if she hadn’t been so immature in the beginning. Overall, it was a nice change of character that I could appreciate.

The worldbuilding of this novel was creative. Even though this novel was based on real life, it took place in 1984 and 2004. This meant that to a current reader, both time periods would have to be described in order to get the full picture of the storyline. The plot moved quite smoothly, and once I got started I could not stop. I thought that every twist was addictive. Every time Brianna got close to finding something out, it switched back to Amalia’s storyline where we find out something new about her. I thought that this method of storytelling was very good, and it kept me engaged throughout the entire book. I didn’t find any editing errors in the copy of the book that I read on Amazon. Everything was simply perfect for me.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new mystery drama novel that takes place over two storylines.

Overall Rating: 6/5

 

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Excerpt (Brianna’s Complicated Feelings)

Brianna and Shanelle have been best friends for years, but something more is brewing and Brianna doesn’t know how to handle it. She’s debating whether to sleep with her boyfriend after prom, but finds herself drawn back to a gift.

– James J. Cudney

“What are we gonna do about Doug?” Shanelle grabbed Brianna’s wrist, led her to the bathroom, and situated her on the toilet seat. She opened one of the boxes from the heaviest bag and considered what to do with a few curlers. “He’s gonna push you to sleep with him. Maybe I should show up to protect you. I could taser him if he does anything wrong.” Shanelle rifled through her cosmetics bag pulling out three types of eyeliner. “Choose.”

“Does it matter?”

“If I taser him? Probably not, though that asshole may get turned on. Hell, I might enjoy watching him piss himself from the electric shock.” She freakishly shook her body and feigned surprise after pretending to become incontinent.

“Not Doug, the eyeliner.” Brianna held up the makeup clueless about which color to select. She’d worn very little of her own following in her mother’s footsteps. Less is more is a motto often chanted around their apartment.

“Oh, my lovely little Bree. We’ll make a woman out of you someday.” Shanelle chose the thickest one and applied a generous line around Brianna’s eyes. “I’m jealous of these high cheekbones. They so perfectly shape your face.”

“Umm, thanks.” Brianna, often incapable of accepting praise, glanced at the mirror, then updated Shanelle about the information she discovered on Lenny’s mail in the jazz club. “Maybe I’ve got a new lead, huh?”

“It’s possible. That would be a big help.” Shanelle shrugged her shoulders, then excitedly changed the subject. “Ooh, grab the bag on the floor.”

Brianna tried to reach for it but couldn’t without bending forward. Shanelle’s hand slipped and traced a line of dark black liquid across her cheeks. “Bree, you’re such an awkward mess.”

“Just finish, will you?” Brianna grabbed the bag and shook a small blue box with a white bow. “You bought me something from Tiffany’s?”

“Yeah, even though you don’t deserve it.” Shanelle capped the eyeliner and opened a tray of varying shades of blue eyeshadow. “You need a darker, smokier color to highlight your eyes.”

“You shouldn’t have bought me anything after the way I behaved last night.” Brianna pulled the bow off the box and removed the lid. A pair of diamond teardrop earrings caused her to swoon. “They’re beautiful. You really are amazing.”

Available on Amazon and from Creativia

About the Author

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James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

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