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Tickling the Bear: How to Stay Safe in the Universe by David Wann (Book Review and Author Interview)

TICKLING THE BEAR: HOW TO STAY ALIVE IN THE UNIVERSE by David Wann
 
 
Anthropology professor Marc Blake is on a “hero’s journey.” His challenge is to overcome a troubling medical diagnosis –a virus from a tick bite. Along the way he shares his deepest thoughts as the reader follows his courageous efforts to survive. May, an attractive Danish woman, also endures setbacks with resilience, gradually coming center stage in the story. Her husband Kai has a passion for growing herbs and healthy vegetables, marveling how gardening provides a sense of purpose, good health, direct contact with nature, and companionship. Marc’s niece, a natural beauty and ex-model, offers readers a comical, on-again, off-again romantic episode with a Silicon Valley genius she fears might outshine her. Will she prove to be his equal?
 
Quirky humor injects both lightness and conflict into a 30-year marriage. A six-year old’s “best summer ever” is a reminder that life’s an absolute miracle. Collectively this extended family contests a widespread belief that life is happening to us – that we are passive consumers. On the contrary, each character in this upbeat book is actively self-guided, perfecting their passions and offering generous support to family and friends.
 

​Though author David Wann has previously written non-fiction books about sensible, sustainable lifestyles, in his first-novel these themes are woven right into a compelling story. “Our lives don’t look much different than most Americans,” the characters might say. “Really, we are not ‘doing without,’ more like doing within.” Kai enjoys investing in regional businesses, and also loves to travel effortlessly on Denver’s bike paths. Meatless Mondays or grilled-salmon Sundays are a great way for the outgoing May to bring friends together for active conversation. Each character would insist that kindness and gratitude are encoded in our genes and are far more powerful than anger. In a world that’s currently so full of disruption and confusion, they offer both a sense of direction and grounded hope.

 
 
Buy the Book:
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Marcus Blake has been given a year to live due to the Q virus. David Wann (the author) states the virus steadily destroys white blood cells, is transferred from insects to people, and has a 5% survival rate. The odds are against Marc, but he decides to beat the odds.


While this is a story about a man’s quest to survive, we gain much insight into the lives of Marc’s friends and family. For example: Rocket, his brother, lives off the land and is a talented woodworker. Kai was taught the power of plants/herbs/flowers by his father.


David Wann spoke passionately about nature, his disgust for Trump and pulling out of The Paris Agreement, and even discussed gun rights and taxes. These might be problem areas for those who don’t want a book with political topics. However, if you don’t like the former president, you’ll have no issue with David condemning Trump’s actions. 🙂

Marc faced death head-on. At one point, literally (skydiving scene).
In the end, I won’t disclose if he lived or died. The journey to discovering Marc’s fate will be filled with love, laughter, tears, and some drugs. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pot between brothers. 🙂
 
 
 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Author David Wann

 
David Wann has been a self-acknowledged author since second grade. He’s written hundreds of articles and columns; ten books – one a best seller; and produced five TV documentaries viewed by 20 million. He’s lived in a cooperative neighborhood (cohousing) for 26 years where he has been the organic gardener for 27 households. He’s an amateur musician and the proud father of two. His greatest ambition is to make a difference in a world that urgently requires “all hands on deck.” His books include Affluenza; Biologic; Superbia; Simple Prosperity; The Zen of Gardening; The New Normal, Reinventing Community and others.
 
 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: KAM’S PLACE

 
What are some of your personal interests, and how do they shape the plot and characters in Tickling the Bear?

(David Wann)  Throughout my adult life, I’ve focused on several passions: my relationships; writing; playing guitar; being in nature, and gardening. Through thick and thin, these are what I relied on to keep me sane (though some might question if it worked!)
 
 
Would you say that one particular character is more like you than the others?

(David Wann)  I suppose all the characters resemble me in one way or another, but the protagonist, Marc Blake, is kind of an avatar for me. I wish I had his courage. He’s been diagnosed with a life threatening virus he got from a tick bite in Borneo. His journey in the book takes him from Denver to California and back in his quest to heal himself by spending time with family and close friends. Like me, he is interested in creating a future that works. He’s a professor of Future Studies, and admittedly, some of his words could very easily come from my mouth.
 
 
Are you a professor, too?

(David Wann)  No, but I’ve given many keynote talks and presentations at universities about sustainable lifestyles and designs. If I said some of the pointed things Marc says about life in America, people might think I was being overly critical, so I let Marc say them.
 
 
What about Marc’s brother, Rocket, who’s kind of a joyful dropout from mainstream America, making a living on a small organic farm and with his woodworking? Does that come from your experience?

(David Wann)  Partially. I’ve been an organic gardener for forty years, and I did dream the dream that Rocket and his family bring to “life,” but I have to say that I’m lucky I chose an easier path. Farming in California and most other places takes a lot of guts and also requires that a person loves being home. I enjoyed portraying Rocket as a man rooted in his community, carving two large totem poles that celebrate the indigenous people, plants and animals of the region.
 
 
Say something about your own home. You live in an intentional community, right?

(David Wann)  Yes, about thirty years ago I joined eight or ten others to buy ten acres of land and create a “cohousing” village – not a commune – that now has 27 houses. The idea is to provide support for each other and to follow our convictions collectively. We each own our homes but share common assets like a community house, a large garden, and a people-friendly landscape, perfect for the kids who build forts and give performances for enthusiastic neighbors. I’ve been the village organic gardener for 25 years, which is a great match with writing. I focus at my desk and un-focus in the garden. In terms of writing, one of my characters plays the role of an author who makes it to the “big tent” with science fiction and fantasy novels. (I should be so lucky). She jokes about her poor characters feeling lost when she’s taking a break from writing. “What are we supposed to do now?” She compares launching a new novel to launching a probe to Jupiter: it’s impossible to know if the mission will succeed, but there’s only one way to find out.
 
 
What do your other characters do for a living?

(David Wann)  The Sakata family runs an herbal business and also designs Zen-inspired landscapes. Two generations of the family live next door to each other with a large, shared backyard. The son, Kai, is a Wall Street dropout, and his wife May is an environmental activist and aspiring state senator. Solar panels on the roof their small home provide power and everything they really need is within walking or bicycling distance. There are always jars of canned and pickled produce on the pantry shelves and herbs hanging from kitchen beams to dry- a little like my own family’s kitchen. So yes, I guess my own passions and experiences made their way into the book, but I’ll confess that some of the romantic encounters are wishful thinking. I still get kind of choked up when one of the romances comes full circle, just like readers were hoping, though another attempt doesn’t quite make it.
 
 
It sounds very true to life!  Thanks for your comments, and thanks for writing the book.

(David Wann)  It really was my pleasure. My characters carried me through some difficult times. I hope they’ll do the same for the book’s readers.
 

connect with the author: 
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Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 

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Gingersnap Snatcher by Vicky Weber (Book Review and Author Interview)

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Abuela made cookies to eat after school.

The gingersnap kind, just the thought made us drool!

We rushed home excited. We opened the door…

…The cookies were missing-just crumbs on the floor!

Can you help the kids crack the case of the Gingersnap Snatcher?

 
 
 
 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 

Oh my goodness gracious, I loved everything about Gingersnap Snatcher. 

First, the story was adorable and funny. As an owner of a kitty, I cracked up over the image of Mr. Wiggles, created by Svitlana Liuta, with a mouthful of cookies, and one is his paw. Oh, and the Christmas tree scene is totally relatable. My kitty is either in the tree or lying on the couch, staring at the twinkling lights. 

I think toddlers will love looking at all the bright and bold pictures, while elementary school-age children will love trying to solve the mystery alongside the three siblings. I can practically hear the giggles when they discover who the cookie thief was.

 After the revelation, stick around; Vicky Weber included bonus material.

1.) “Gingersnap Snatcher” song. To be honest, we (my daughter and I) could not find the right rhythm and beat to make it flow effortlessly. Instead, we sang, “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”

2.) A way for you to get Abuela’s gingersnap recipe. Most kids love helping out in the cookie-making process, and they also love eating their creations. If you haven’t made these from scratch yet, now’s the time!

I can’t wait to make these with my youngest!  

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
 

Amazon Purchase Link

 
 
 
 
 
Vicky Weber is a musician and an elementary educator with a love for children’s literature. As a Puerto Rican author of Taíno descent, she strives to create picture books that are fun, engaging, and educational. All her current titles are based on her background in music education or her heritage. While she has taught a variety of grade levels, primary level education is where her passion lies. It has long been a dream of hers to teach children through the magic of books and she hopes you love reading her works as much as she loved writing them.

 

 

Do you write every day?

(Vicky) I don’t but I think that’s healthy. With any job, trying to do big projects every single day is a quick way to burn yourself out. I write whenever I can but I also try to spend as much time with my family as I can.

 

As a mom and business owner, how do you find the time to write?

(Vicky) Great question. I’ll be honest, it’s not easy. My baby girl is almost five months old, so I try to soak up every snuggle and every laugh because I know that time goes by quickly. Really, it’s all about balance and creativity. Sometimes, I write using the notes app on my phone. Sometimes, I use talk-to-text and send story ideas to my husband. And sometimes, writing doesn’t happen until after my daughter’s bedtime. Every day is a new adventure…both in writing and in parenthood.

 

You have published 6 books with another on the way. Do you have a favorite?

(Vicky) (I actually have more than that!) Rhythm Rescue was my first idea for a story, but it wasn’t the first book I published because I was nervous. Scared, even. I didn’t know if other people would like it and the book was so close to my heart. I feared rejection. But I pushed through, got it published, and now, it is my bestselling title. I frequently get emails and pictures of teachers using it with their music classes or parents reading it to their children. If I had to choose a favorite book, it would be that one.

 

What’s your favorite song/instrument/book?

(Vicky) To be quite honest, my collection of books for my music classroom is quite large because I strongly believe that music and literacy go hand-in-hand. There are so many that I love! One that I always start the school year with is Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It is a great way to facilitate a conversation about respecting one another as we create, and we discuss how some things will be easier than others but to never give up. Throughout the year, when students get frustrated, I remind them of the end of the book: “We all can dance…when we find the music that we love.”

 

What does a typical morning look like for you?

(Vicky) Oh, nothing special. I get my daughter ready for the day and then I sit down with my coffee and breakfast. I check my planner (I have to keep one or I’ll have NO idea what day it is!) and then I get to work. I network, market, write, research, answer other author’s questions…it takes up more of the day than you’d think! But I love it.

 
 
connect with the author:  
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Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 
 

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Finding My Sunshine (A Memoir) by Shannon Leith McGuire (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

FINDING MY SUNSHINE by Shannon Leith McGuire
Content Rating:  PG+M for bad language, anger, and suicidal thoughts, clinical depression, and assault
 
“What if that someone was you?” Shannon had been so quick to blame others for her anger. She knew she was drowning in darkness and pain; being born with a learning disability made her feel defeated by life. She tried drinking heavily in order to quiet the demons. After being kicked out of college, Shannon took a leap of faith and started working in a nursing home. That’s when her angels appeared and the miracle began. The insight and wisdom she gained from those elderly new friends led her on an inspiring journey of discovery and self-acceptance. Each of us has our own path. Some of us just need angels to help us find it. This is her story.
 
 
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Meet the Author:
 
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Bio: Shannon was raised in a small town in Eastern Montana, where you leave your car keys in the ignition and your front door unlocked all the time. The kind of place where sunsets and sunrises can be seen for miles on the horizon. Where the spring crickets and frogs resting in the irrigation ditches helped transition the days into a calm resting night. Where the winters can get so cold, air can freeze.

It was only after she was academically suspended by the college she was attending, that she became a Certified Nurses Aide (CNA). She did her training in Billings, Montana and it was there she learned how to take care of others and bonded with the geriatric population.

​For over five years, Shannon worked in the same nursing home where she received her training. The work was hard, but it grounded her and helped her find balance in what had become a deeply unbalanced life. It was not until she was a CNA, at one of the hospitals that she had a dream-three nights in a row-that she was going to become a nurse.

She currently resides in Tampa, Florida, where you may hear her laughing with her husband of over 10 years,  scuba diving in the ocean, taking walks with their rescued pit-bull dog- Darby, or dancing together to life’s music.

 

In your book you wrote how disappointed you were when you found out you had Poly Cystic Ovary disease and that you had always wanted to have 4 boys. Did you ever think of adopting?

Yes, I did. However, I knew for some time I could not take care of myself. How was I going to be able to take care of children?  I was not put together yet, and it took many years for me to feel like I was able to care for myself. I did not have the money to work with a fertility specialist. It was something I had to come to terms with and accept. It was not in God’s plans for me to become an actual mom.  So, I am a mom to my rescue dog, Darby. 

 

 

What is your pet peeve?

One thing I learned from my time in counseling with Tom is to be truthful.  I found that if you are honest in the beginning, everything really will turn out okay. There is no reason to lie.  Lies start a domino effect and people get hurt. Sometimes you cannot take back what was lied about. Saying “I am sorry” after a lie is owning up to the action, and it changes everything. I learned you only are as strong as your word. 

 

 

There are many memoirs out there about people’s lives. What makes yours so special?

 Like so many other memoirs, mine is about finding myself and finding a balance. I write about how I was trying to survive; I had darkness all around me. Counseling helped me shine the light on the darkness, and really helped me own up to my insecurities, anger, and hatred of myself. I realized I never was a victim of life.  I just needed help; I denied myself for many years. My hope is my book will help others get help earlier and live their best life and not wait so long to get it like I did. I hope others learn that mistakes are not a life sentence, and you can get better. But first you must admit you need help. That is the first step. I hope I make it easier for people who are struggling to find their way and let them know it is okay. And, let them know their lives can be SO much better.

 

 

Tell us more about your rescue dog, Darby.

Pit bulls have such a bad rap. I have learned a lot about the breed from watching Pitbull’s and Paroles and reading up on them on my own. We wanted to help.  We were on a web site, Pet Finder, and we saw her.  She looked like she had road rash on her right shoulder, and scars all over her face, but she was still smiling. We made an appointment to go meet her, and she was lovely.  She had healed stab wounds all over her body and her tongue needed to be surgically put back together. She was found when police did a raid on where she was living.  Jimmy’s Angels rescue center took her in, cared for her, and brought her back to life. We fell in love with her. They came out and did a home check. She has been with us for a little over a year now. She is living proof what a little bit of love can do to change someone’s world.  She goes everywhere with me.  (And she snores louder then my husband.)

 

 

Tell us more about your favorite resident. What drew you to her or him?

I have so many favorite people I have taken care of over the years. But I guess the 2 that I truly bonded with were Betty Ann and Phyllis. I talk about them in my book. I guess because they were once broken also, and both shared it with me.  They shared with me their stories and how they got through the tough times and struggled with addiction (alcohol) as well.  I guess what drew me to them was the rawness of how they were.  They too had one-night stands, got drunk at parties, lived by the seat of their pants, did what they needed to do to get by.  They helped me realize mistakes are not life sentences. It is just life.  They helped me stop taking things so seriously and being so hard on myself.

 
 
connect with the author: website
 
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 
 
 

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Lost and Found by Ronald L. Ruiz (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

Content Rating:  R – Includes f-words and profanities throughout, one sex scene

 
When community leaders began to doubt Abel Mendoza, the law practice he had spent years building began to crumble. It was the 1960s and there was but a handful of Mexican lawyers in California. Abel had worked tirelessly to earn respect in the courts, avoiding any semblance of a personal life to achieve his goals. Now, his personal and professional lives had collided and he found himself being rejected by the community that had previously supported and admired him. His fears of inadequacy kindled, Abel began to question who he really was, what he did, and where he belonged. A desire to avoid these questions and the people who had provoked them sent this small-town lawyer on a trip to escape not only his community but his own self-doubts, and into a relationship that changed his life completely.
 
 
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Meet the Author
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​Ronald L. Ruiz is the author of a memoir and six previous novels. His novel Giuseppe Rocco (1998) received the national literary prize, 1998 Premio Aztlán Award, and his novel Life Long (2017) was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2017. His work has been compared to Richard Wright’s Native Son (Publisher’s Weekly, featured review) and his writing described as “frighteningly real” (New York Newsday). Ron was born and raised in Fresno, California, and educated at St. Mary’s College, University of California, Berkeley Law, and University of San Francisco School of Law. Ron practiced law for over 30 years in California, as a Deputy District Attorney, criminal defense attorney, and Deputy Public Defender. He was appointed to the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 1974, and later served as the District Attorney of Santa Cruz County, California. Ron retired from criminal law and continues to write every day.
 
 
 
 

How long have you been writing?


(​Ronald L. Ruiz ) I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 17.  I published my first novel 37 years later.  During the interim I completed my undergraduate studies, my law school studies and set up a law practice as an attorney.  Likewise, during that period I was trying to write but I didn’t know the first thing about the craft of writing.  Whenever I had any kind of free time, I wrote essays, paragraphs, short stories and attempted novels.  Virtually all I wrote during those 37 years was worthless, except for the fact that I was teaching myself how to write by writing and reading authors I admired.

In 1994, Happy Birthday Jesus was my first novel to be published.  Much to my surprise Publishers Weekly said it’s forlorn hero was “destined to take his place next to Bigger Thomas in the honor roll of seminal characters in American literature.”


Since then, I have written and published six novels and a memoir.  How long have I been writing?  If you want to count what I was doing from age 17 to 54 as writing, then to the present time I have been writing for 68 years.

 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 

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Why I Do VFX: The Untold Truths About Working in Visual Effects by Vicki Lau (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

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From the city of Singapore to working on over twenty Hollywood blockbuster films and TV series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Aquaman,” and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” comes one of the first books of its kind in the visual effects (VFX) industry.

With a unique blend of self-help, career strategy, and memoir-like elements, Vicki Lau speaks to the core of what it is like to work behind-the-scenes on some of your favorite Hollywood titles, covering strategies employed in order to maneuver her way into the upper echelons of the industry.

You will learn:

  • Detailed breakdowns of day-to-day studio activities
  • How industries and events impact your life and career prospects as a VFX artist
  • Key strategies and insights on dealing with Hollywood politics
  • Precise predictions on VFX job displacements and new high-growth skills
  • Self-clarity on your ambitions in life and what the VFX industry truly offers

Why I Do VFX is a must-have for anyone seriously considering a fulfilling life and career in Hollywood, film, and the arts.

After all, why spend a decade of your life uncovering the truths about this industry when you need only read this book to answer your own question:

Do you really want to do VFX?

Foreword by Leif Einarsson (VFX on “Stuart Little,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming”)

 
 
 

 

BUY THE BOOK
Amazon ~ Books2Read

 

 

Meet the Author:

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Vicki Lau is a VFX artist/generalist, virtual reality (VR) developer, TEDx speaker, entrepreneur, and educator from Singapore who broke into Hollywood as an outsider. She has worked with over 20 studios and filmmakers on major productions such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (Season 4), “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Aquaman” and teaches over 80,000 students worldwide.

She is a winner of the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Editor’s Choice Award and nominated finalist of the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Global Award for Achievement and WinTrade Award for Women in Tech. Vicki is also a bodybuilder.

 

  1. In your book you mentioned the term “returnlancers”. Tell us more about this – how did you come up with this idea?

I did officially coin that word in the book, haha. Anyway, returnlancers are basically what one would refer to as “serial freelancers” or people who freelanced at a studio and then return to that studio again (and again) in the future for different project(s).

 

I’ve personally returnlanced before and this phenomenon is fairly common in VFX – where, after getting a project with Studio A, Studio A may let you go but then call you back months later for a different project. Generally, if you had maintained a good working relationship with that studio, you’ll get future work and projects from that studio – hence, becoming a returnlancer.

 

Since there wasn’t exactly a term that existed to describe this phenomenon (other than calling them “freelancers who return to that same studio again in the future”), I figured that returnlancers would be a fitting and descriptive term to describe VFX professionals who make a career out of frequenting studios they had worked at previously.

 

 

  1. What is your writing schedule?

I generally do my workouts first before writing (just because my gym isn’t open 24 hours) and that would depend on the time I get up. Basically, my writing schedule varies depending on what time I finish my workout and/or if there are any events or meetings I have to attend first before writing. It’s purely based on convenience for the most part – i.e. I don’t believe there is a special hour or time of the day to write (it really depends on what else you have going on and any other things you need to do that has a closing time, for example).

 

  1. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I am probably too familiar with my writing and quirks to be able to see them as what would be considered as interesting quirks – to me, these quirks are very normal. I suppose I will say that I am very particular with my contractions in my book: if it’s meant to be “I’ll” rather than “I will” because it rolls off better (or has a more or less authoritative tone of voice), then it will be written in the form that fits the context of the sentence best.

 

Alternatively, I am very particular with my use of the words “always” and “never,” and if I know for a fact that there is even a slight chance that the scenario I am describing could play out differently, I would say “most/less likely” rather than “always/never,” to be very accurate in my statements.

 

I’ll probably wait till I have more books down to make a call on what my quirk(s) could potentially be, but there you go.

 

  1. What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?

Getting pulled away from writing to do other tasks or attend meetings/events and the like, for sure. The process of writing and getting the book published isn’t as much of a challenge as it was to be called away to tend to other types of work I had to do, et cetera.

 

Also, waiting on platforms to complete their part of the job (for example, approving or reviewing a book/audiobook) was a challenge. I am not a fan of long wait times.

 

  1. What is the last great book you’ve read?

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book I genuinely wanted to read (you know, ignoring the mandatory textbooks you had to read whilst in school) – my schedule simply doesn’t allow me to spend the time to sit and read a book. I suppose then I would say that the last great book I’ve sought after and read was Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I believe I read that when I was 20 and it was a copy from the school library. I had even borrowed a bunch of Nietzsche’s books not for the assignment but because I’ve always wanted to read them since I was exposed to his works years prior.

 

  1. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I don’t actually remember – mainly because after that supposedly courageous thing was done, I just move on to the next thing. I suppose if I had to pick one that I can recall, it has got to be asking a guy I had a crush on out and then later asking to kiss him (this was back in Singapore so I was probably 18 or 19 at the time), haha. I was such a geek back then (probably still am today).

 

Connect with the Author:  
Website ~ Instagram Goodreads
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 

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