Lost in L.A: #LoveOzYA Review

Lost in LA (The Bikini Collective #2) by Kate McMahon
Genre: Contemporary
Publication: February 28th 2019
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Review copy from Author
Thank you Kate
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Three friends discover, surfing just got serious.

Pack your bags, the Bikini Collective girls are California bound to compete in their very first overseas surfing event. The LA sun is shining, Santa Monica’s shops are bursting with bargains and the point break is pumping. It should be happy days, right? Wrong! Mel has her party pants on and is ready to ravage this Hollywood scene, but her best friend and wingwoman, Jaspa, is welded to the hip of her new boyfriend. If Jaspa wants to be the Mayor of Lame Town, Mel figures she’ll just have to find someone else to get into trouble with. Swept along by the local celebrity brat pack, Mel finds herself on a wild ride that soon lands her in deep water, and she is way out of her depth. Will Mel be kicked off the World Junior Tour already? This is an adventure to rival any rogue set, so hold your breath and dive down deep … and pray you pop back up again!


In the first book we saw the three friends – Jaspa, Mel and Carolyn – competing in Australia, while learning how to navigate staying friends and competing against each other. The second book sees the girls head to Malibu to attend their first World Junior Tour as part of the Australian team. The first book focuses more around Jaspa, her awkward adorableness and her relationship with her brother. This book was all up in Mel’s head as she learns how to tell who her real friends are and learns to appreciate the things she has in life.

Hollywood baby! Mel gets caught up in the glitz and glamour and of wanting something more. She gets herself in a sticky situation that sees her nearly lose the things/people she cares about the most.

Lost in L.A. is full of all the things I loved from the first book. Fast and furious surfing action scenes that are written so descriptively you feel like you are out on the wave. It’s full of girl power; friends sticking up for each other and woman banding together to make the sport/world better for the next generation.

Lost in L.A. is a short and sweet ride, one that could probably be read as a standalone, but then you would be depriving yourself of book one and building a deeper connection to the characters.

Who would like this book: This is a clean book with a 15 year old POV. This book is perfect for the younger YA readers, even a high-level MG reader and hey I enjoyed it as an adult. I applauded Kate for managing to create an exciting series that doesn’t use sex, violence, or OTT romance to make it captivating. So many of the YA books coming out these days feature 17/19-year-olds doing things that 13/14-years-olds just cannot relate to, this is a perfect in-between.

I sincerely look forward to the next installment of the Bikini Collective and following these girls’ journeys onwards and upwards.

Kate McMahon: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

View my review of book one HERE.

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Dig by A.S. King: YA Review

43447523Dig by A.S. King
Genre: Contemporary YA, Magical Realism
Publication: April 2nd 2019
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank you Text.
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grand children.

“Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says.

What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby’s drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamiaca between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a doublewide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest.

As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings precious white suburban respectability begins to spread, the far flung grand children gradually find their ways back to each other, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.


I finished reading Dig by A.S.King the other day and I still can’t figure out what I want to say about it.

I part hated it (some of the characters are truly disturbing and examples of the worst parts of humanity) and I part loved it (there were three characters I connected with and the last quarter of the book made up for the first three quarters).

It is skillfully written and tackles some dark stuff. I feel like it’s the kind of novel that should be read and dissected in a high school English class. King is a phenomenal writer and isn’t afraid to get dark with it.

The story jumps between six characters, with each short chapter alternating the POV. The jumps never get confusing, it is rest-bite from the not-likable to the likable characters. It created a balance and pushed the story along.

This is not a light read, it tackles: terminal illness, poverty, physical & sexual abuse, parental neglect, racism, white privilege and the danger of family legacy.

Dig is Intense and at times it gets real dark! It’ll make you uncomfortable, and if it doesn’t, there is something wrong with you. But the journey that is reading this book is worth it in the end.

Dig is a story about the way our actions tunnel down and affect those around us, generation after generation. A story about digging our way out from under our past and moving forward to better future.


A.S. King: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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We Are Okay: YA Review

43694552We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Genre: Queer YA Contemporary
Publication: March 5th 2019
Publisher: UQP
Source: Review copy from UQP – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.


I was a little apprehensive going into this read. I knew being a book dealing with grief that it would be a ‘sad book’ and I was afraid it might drag up somethings for me. But being that I had only heard good things about the book from trusted bookish friends, I dived in.

I found We Are Okay to be a slow burning and beautiful queer contemporary tale of a young woman drowning in, then dealing with her grief for the grandfather and life she’s lost and for the mother she never knew.

I adored the protagonist Marin and connected with her deeply.
I liked how the chapters go back and forth between the present and the past, slowly bringing the truth to light.
And I felt that the ending leaves with the reader with the knowledge that while Marin still has a lot of healing to do, she is on the mend and she will be okay.

We Are Okay is a beautiful story that will break your heart, then turn around and heal it.
We Are Okay is a story for everyone who has lost something or someone.
We Are Okay is a story for anyone who has ever ran away from pain.
We Are Okay is a for anyone who has every lost themselves and had to fight to get themselves back.

Nina LaCour’s Goodreads | Twitter | Website.

Jade and I did a little We Are Okay book chat over on the
#AusYABloggers group site, you can view it HERE.

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

The Quiet at the End of the World: YA Review

32716442The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication: March 7th 2019
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Review copy from Publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .


Oh, Lauren James you’ve done it again. “A boy and a girl, living on the outskirts of a collapsed civilization, watching their species go extinct.”

The Quiet at the End of the World is a YA Sci-Fi mystery that follows Lowrie and Shen, the last teenagers on earth, as they live in the aftermath of a virus that caused global infertility.

I love that Lauren’s leading ladies are always strong, smart and sciencey. Lowire is an adventurous and spirited young lady with her engineering mind always whirling and a backpack full of tools always ready to go. Lowire identifies as bisexual and there are also Bisexual and Transgender side characters, so yay for representation. Ultimately Lowire ends up with her childhood bestie, a boy and the only other teen, the intelligent and thoughtful Shen. It’s more than a romance of convenience though, as the two complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses magnificently.

A highlight for me was the interlaced life of Maya in the past with Lowrie’s present, via Lowrie reading Maya’s posts on old social media servers – It really created a depth, relatability and realness to the story. AND Mitch the robot was awesome! a handy pal and he made for a little humorous relief at times.

The Quiet at the End of the World has plenty of twists and turns, plenty of moments that make you ponder life, the future of the human race and what it means to be alive, what it means to truly live!

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bravo Lauren James.

 

Lauren’s links: Web | Twitter | Amazon | Booktopia | Bookdepository | Walker Books

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Clackety Track, Poems about Trains: Review

41110368Clackety Track: Poems about Trains by Skila Brown (Author) & Jamey Christoph (Illustrator)

Genre: Children’s picture book, Poetry

Publication: March 12th 2019
Publisher: Walker Books (Candlewick imprint)

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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Source: Review copy from publisher, THANK YOU.

Queue up for a whistle-stop tour of trains of all kinds, narrated in lively verse and featuring dynamic retro artwork.

Rows of grooves, cables, and bars.
Graffiti rockin’ out the cars.
A badge of rust. A proud oil stain.
There’s nothin’ plain about a train.

Trains of all shapes and sizes are coming down the track — bullet train, sleeper train, underground train, zoo train, and more. All aboard! Skila Brown’s first-class poems, as varied as the trains themselves, reflect the excitement of train travel, while Jamey Christoph’s vintage-style illustrations provide a wealth of authentic detail to pore over.


The five-year-old: Riley sat through a read through with me, and was even asking questions while I was reading the train facts at the end of the book.

Once we’d finished the first read though I asked him if he liked the book. He replied Yes, then immediately ran off and dragged out some train toys and started playing with them.

The two-year-old: Upon seeing the book for first the first time Ethan stated that it was “my Thomas, my train” and his grabby little hands snatched the book up. Ethan was wowed by the images on the pages and sat rather mesmerised in my lap through the first read thought with his brother, then a second on his own. After the second read through Ethan ran off to joined his brother playing with their trains.

I’ve had the book sitting on my desk for about a week, the time between reading it the boys for the first time and sitting down to write this review. Multiple times I’ve found Ethan sitting at my desk thumbing through the book, just looking at the pictures of the trains, waiting for someone to come along and read it to him.

My thoughts:

The artwork is beautifully drawn and the images are eye-catching, yet soft and romantic in a way.

The words are rhythmic and flowing and a pleasure to read.

Clackety Track: Poems about Trains is a must read for any train loving littlies and train/poetry enthusiasts of all ages – so yeah, the perfect book for my boys and me. And one I can see us reading many more times, for many years to come.

LINKS: Skila’s Website | Jamey’s Website | Walker Books
Goodreads | Booktopia | Bookdepository

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The Bell Jar: Review

6514The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Genre: Classics, Feminist Fiction
Publication: 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published January 1963)
Source: Purchased
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.


Oh, shit balls! should I be worried about how much I saw of myself in Esther Greenwood? a character that Plath based on herself.

Farrrrrrrrrk, this was one of the darkest and most beautiful things I’ve ever read. At one point I chuckled out loud and thought to myself “I f***ing love her” (the main character), but for the most part it was all too real and even a little disturbing.

I picked this book up, just looking at it as I was rearranging my collection. It’s one of those classic must reads that’s been on my TBR list forever. I hadn’t meant to start reading. I was just reading the introduction about its publication journey (which was fascinating) and then the next thing I know I’m sitting on the lounge and had devoured the first two chapters. I was captivated. I’ve never read any of Plath’s poetry before. I own a collection, same thing, been on my TBR list forever. So her writing was a whole new world to me.

Sometimes while reading this book a feeling of dread would wash over me. Other times I would scoff to myself and think “she’s f***ing hilarious”. Damn it was compulsive reading. The story, the writing, the words, the girl, sucked me in. What a roller-coaster.

I found myself thinking: I am this woman. She is darkness and she rages and reveals in it. I saw so much of myself in Esther Greenwood. The only other time I’ve ever really seen myself in a character was Clancy, from Clancy of The Undertow by Christopher Currie – which is a very different book to this one.

A lot of people might find this book disturbing/depressing. But I found a powerful dark beauty to it and it made me feel less alone. It justified the fears and disdain I felt while pregnant with my first born and that I continue to feel in this world as a modern woman.

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Defensive Play: YA Review

42646792Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon
Genre: M/M Contemporary YA Romance
Publication: November 30th 2018
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Source: Review copy from Author
Thank you Jamie
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?


Davey is still trying to hide his sexually and Adam is out and owning it. Their eyes meet across the footy pitch and right from the start there is chemistry between them.

Adam invites Davey around to his place where they bond over football, video games and their love of Doctor Who. Yes that’s right, both boys are Whovians! I loved that little touch.

Davey’s favourite doctor is Matt Smith and Adam’s is David Tennant, but they move past this for a steamy yet sweet first make out session.

Davey holds off coming out from fear of how his team mates will react and because of this he nearly loses Adam, who was burnt by a past secret relationship. Davey comes out and while he and Adam do face some hate, for the most part the friends and family around them are supportive of their relationship – so a big YAY for that. I love a seeing positive examples.

Conclusion: Defensive Play was a quick and cute read that follows Davey as he gets his first boyfriend and comes out to his family and friends. I really enjoyed it and can see myself reading more from Jamie Deacon.

Jamie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon AU | Amazon US

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Vardaesia: #LoveOzYA Review

39808670Vardaesia (The Medoran Chronicles #5) by Lynette Noni
Genre: Fantasy YA
Publication: February 18th 2019
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Review copy from Pantera – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

“When Day and Night combine and fight against one Enemy,
then Dark and Light shall meet mid-strike and set the Captives free.”

In the wake of loss and devastation, Alex must cast aside her grief to seek aid from those who banished the Meyarins long ago. But the proud Tia Aurans care little for the woes of mortals and demand that Alex—and her friends—undergo the Gates of Testing to prove their world is worth saving.

With an ancient prophecy looming, Alex must confront the secrets of her past if she is to survive long enough to see the future. For if she returns to Medora without the Tia Aurans by her side, all hope will be lost.

In this explosive conclusion to The Medoran Chronicles, the fate of Medora hangs in the balance as Alex readies herself to face Aven one final time.

Who will survive, and who will fall?

“If, however, darkness wins, there is no strategy
to keep from all that will be lost, and so will always be.”


The final instalment of the Medoran chronicles was as heart-wrenching and heart-warming as I expected. I sure had some high expectations of this books awesomeness, and rest assured that I wasn’t disappointed.

My problem now is trying figure out how to write a review without spoiling it for all.

I could tell you about Alex and…
Oh no I can’t, spoilers!

I could tell you about Alex being…
Oh no I can’t, spoilers!

Damn!

Look! You already know Alex is going to come out on top, once she’s gone through a whole lot of struggles and only with her friends by her side. So I think I’m safe in saying that other than Niyx coming back from the dead, all my other dreams for Alex came true.

One of the best things about Lynette Noni’s Medoran Chronicles is the strength of her friendships. Alex and her loyal companions: human, immortal and animal alike – It is a truly beautiful thing to read and be apart of. Through all the trials and tribulations that Noni has put her characters through, the messages of the importance of being there for your friends, trying your hardest, never giving up and believing in yourself, always shines through.

Two of the other best things about Noni’s Medoran Chronicles is all the atmospheric world building and pulse quickening action. So, so many best things!! Oh, how I didn’t want this series to end. There is some hope at the end for a spin off/companion series, so fingers crossed!!!!

Summary: Alex’s friendships, loves, loyalties, physical abilities and sheer force of will, are all tested in the action packed and epic conclusion to one of my all-time favourite series.

Who would like this series: Fantasy lovers of all ages over 10. #LoveOzYA aficionados. YA literature lovers. Anyone after a heart capturing cast of characters on a whirlwind adventure to save their world.

Lynette Noni’s Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pantera | Goodreads

Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

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Songs that sound like blood: Review & Playlist

27803898Songs That Sound Like Blood
by Jared Thomas
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication: August 1st 2016
Publisher: Magabala Books
Source: Own Purchase
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is.


Songs that sound like blood is a beautiful coming of age tale about a young aboriginal girl coming out and discovering herself. This story is filled with courage, love and music. It is a heartfelt yarn that I highly recommend you read.

This wonderful story features a same-sex-attracted aboriginal protagonist – Roxy. We follow Roxy as she finishes up high school in her small town and heads to the big smoke (Adelaide) to study music and follow her dreams of making it as a singer. 

Throughout the pages of this book there are fantastic examples of loving and supportive relationships, which I found delightful and heart warming.

This story also serves to highlight some of the many issues affecting Indigenous Australians. The writing is so good and the issues so intertwined and connected to the character Roxy’s life that you never feel like the author is trying to educate you, you just feel as if you are Roxy and you are living her truth with her.

Music plays a big part in Roxy life, so obviously it plays a big role in this story. I love music that you feel deep down in your soul and this book was full of it, with the likes of Bob Marley, Courtney Barnett, Yothu Yindi, Midnight Oil, The Pixies, Frank Yamma, Kev Carmondy, Paul Kelly, Coloured Stones, Warumpi Band, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Johnny Cash’s names gracing the pages.

Below I’ve listed and included a link to an apple music playlist I made of the songs performed in the book.


SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE BLOOD: A PLAYLIST

Songs Roxy performs on Starbright:
1) My Island Home by Neil Murray and performed by the Warumpi Band.
2) We Have Survived by No Fixed Address.

Songs “Soul Band” performs:
1) Soul Man by Sam and Dave.
2) I’m Coming by Sam and Dave.
3) Valerie by The Zutons (the book doesn’t state who Valerie is by, so I’m assuming that it is Valerie by The Zutons, later covered by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson).
4) Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett.

Song Roxy sings at the protest rally:
From Little Things Big Things Grow by Kev Carmondy and Paul Kelly.

Song Roxy sings at the Survival Day concert:
Dancing in the Moonlight by Coloured Stones

“When the applause died down Justin and I started playing Coloured Stones’s Dancing in the Moonlight – the blackest of black songs I knew.”

Songs of note: She Cried by Frank Yamma (the song Roxy mentions Frank signing while watching him perform to write her article for Stage).

[ SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE BLOOD PLAYLIST – listen to on apple music ]

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Player’s Game: YA Review

37704117Player’s Game by Desirae Clark
Genre: YA Romance
Publication: December 25th 2017
Publisher: BLVNP Incorporated
Source: Review copy from Publisher – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵

And when I turned around, I expected to see my annoying little sisters but was instead greeted by a familiar face. In the threshold stood Parker Brady with a devious smirk on his face and the looks of a god. 

Samantha Valentine’s life turns upside down when she finds out her family is returning to her old town, Scottsdale. It took her a while to make the city her home, and now all of that is for naught, as she has to learn to settle in a quiet town again.

Parker Brady is perfectly happy to make a mess of his life after his best friend, Samantha, left him. He felt betrayed by his most trusted friend, and now he doesn’t care about anyone anymore. The only thing that matters to him is getting girls.

The two are not so thrilled when they meet after years of being away. Old grudges resurface from the past.

Will Samantha and Parker restore their broken friendship? Or will something else rise from its ruins?

Player’s Game is a funny and heartwarming story about young adults learning to come into terms with their past. If you’re up for a light read that will leave you smiling, grab your copy now!


Player’s Game is a short and sweet read that I devoured in one sitting. It was a story on Wattpad before being published by BLVNP Inc. I think it’s pretty cool when books gain enough popularity to get picked up by a publisher. I’m sure it brings hope to all the other Wattpad (and other such sites) users who are actively trying to get published.

Samantha is a spunkie, no holds barred young woman, and she made for an easily likable protagonist. This light and fluffy romance follows her as she deals with moving back to a town she left as a child – this means facing her old best friend and all the heartache their friendship ending caused her.

There’s all the angst and drama you’d expect from a fluffy YA romance including; a mean girl, school yard drama, ex-boyfriend popping up and a school field trip. Ultimately Samantha doesnt have too much trouble transitioning to a new school, this is in part to Parker, the ex-bestie turn love interest, who’s friends take Samantha into their group immediately.

Even though the story was predictable – you knew going into it that they were going to end up together – it was still an enjoyable read and I would happily read more books by Desirae Clark.

LINKS: Twitter | Instagram | Amazon AU | Amazon US

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