Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu
Genre: Contemporary #LoveOzYa
Publication: April 1st 2020
Publisher: Wakefield Press
Source: Review copy from Wakefield & the #AusYABloggers – Thank You
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The door creaks open and standing in the entrance is my absolute worst nightmare.
Perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect brain.
Impulsive Lottie – heavy-metal fan, expert tomato-grower and frequent visitor to the principal’s office – is in even more trouble than usual.
Her best friend Grace has dropped an unlikely bombshell: she’s dating Lottie’s mortal enemy, good-girl Evelyn Tait.
Studious Jude, the boy next door, has the perfect war plan. Lottie will beat Evelyn at her own good-girl game, unveiling Miss Perfect’s sinister side in the process.
Taking life more seriously starts as fun, but soon offers its own rewards . . . so long as Lottie can manage gorgeous Sebastian’s sudden interest, Jude acting weird, and the discovery that she might actually be good at something.
Taking Down Evelyn Tait is a story about family, friends and embracing who you are. Even if that person is kind of weird.
Today is my tour stop on the #AusYABloggers and Wakefield Press Taking Down Evelyn Tait review tour.
I absolutely adored Poppy’s first book, Making Friends with Alice Dyson, so I went into this read with extremely high hopes and while I didn’t love Lottie as much as I loved Alice, it was still a fantastic read.
Why was it a fantastic Sarah? Well, I’m glad you asked, thank you bob goblin!
What the synopsis doesn’t tell you is that Evelyn Tait is Lottie’s stepsister, and she has it in for Lottie too. There are deep forced family issues dealt with in a humours and entertaining way.
Lottie, oh sweet yet mischievous Lottie. The POV character Lottie goes through a lot of emotional developing and maturing throughout the course of the story, shown in entertaining and heartfelt ways.
At its core, this is a story about getting revenge but finding something better in the process – teaching the younger reader a valuable lesson. The story, to different degrees, deals with everything from grief, divorce, second marriages, stepparents, absentee parents, and step-siblings, to friendship, first loves, revenge, learning empathy, discovering what your good at, the reward of hard work, being your most authentic and best self. Oh, and there are queer side characters, always a plus for me. – See that sounds like a lot squished in, but Poppy has managed to keep this a light, warm and entertaining story.
I highly recommend you get your hands on both of Poppy’s #loveozya novels, you won’t be disappointed.
About the Author:
Poppy Nwosu is an author of YA fiction. Her debut novel, Making Friends with Alice Dyson, was shortlisted for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award, and the 2019 Readings Young Adult Book Prize, and will be published by Walker Books US in America in 2020. She was also awarded the 2019 Writers SA Varuna the Writers’ House Fellowship for Young Writers.
Growing up in central North Queensland, Poppy enjoyed a thoroughly wild childhood surrounded by rainforest and cane fields. After studying music at university, she moved overseas to Ireland, where she spent two years visiting stunning Europe. These days Poppy and her husband still love to travel, but they also like to come home again to their house in Adelaide near the sea.
Keeper Witches 0.5
by Kristy Centeno
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Bryn McCaskey lived by simple rules: kill demons, never use magic against
school bullies, and avoid running her mouth in front of her Grams.
It all seemed easy enough to follow.
Until Rhyzel Connor rolled into her life.
Suddenly everything she thought she knew about demons is put to the test as
she finds herself teaming up with the most unusual of teammates to
save a fellow witch from a hit.
Only problem is she doesn’t know how trustworthy Rhyzel is.
When magic is involved a good outcome isn’t always guaranteed and Bryn
will have to put her neck on the line to get to the bottom of the
well, even if it means unmasking Rhyzel and everything he stands for
in an attempt to solve the biggest mystery she’s ever come across.
Kristy Centeno loves to spin tales of creatures that go bump in the night,
with a sprinkle of romance to top them off. Her passion for writing
stems from a lifelong enjoyment of reading and the pleasure derived
from the magical worlds created by authors like her. She prefers her
female leads strong, independent, and stubborn who will stop at
nothing to save their loved ones and protect those they care for.
Kristy currently resides in Pennsylvania with her five kids, a quartet of
noisy parakeets, and a spoiled puppy. When she’s not working or
writing, she juggles her free time between raising a handful of
minions and pursuing other career goals.
The roar of an engine speeding in our direction drew the Snotty Four’s attention away from me and to a piece of black and green hunk of metal on two wheels headed right for us. Karen and Natasha squealed as the front tire of a beautiful Yamaha motorcycle sped toward them. They jumped to the side, leaving Marianne, Jill, and me in its destructive path.
Marianne and Jill released their iron grip on me and quickly hightailed it after their besties, rushing to the parking lot of the abandoned restaurant to my left as the motorcycle screeched to a stop a mere three feet from my right foot. I had a mini heart attack, but instead of running for cover, I stood frozen to the spot as if my shoes had been superglued to the sidewalk.
I brought my gaze up to the rider, unsure if I should thank him or curse at him. Who the hell drove their motorcycle off the road and right in the direction of five teenagers? No one. Not unless they were crazy, drunk, or stupid. Or all three. There were a lot of psychos out there nowadays.
“Hey, jerk!” Karen yelled at the stranger, who failed to acknowledge her.
Instead, he lifted the helmet off his head and directed a set of green eyes at me. His hair was the color of copper and contrasted against his pale skin. He was very attractive, there was no denying that, but something about him instantly put me on alert.
For starters, no normal person had specks of red in their irises along with their natural color. Second, he gave out an interesting vibe. Like he was surrounded by some inner force that, although invisible, I could still sense.
Ten Little Figs
Written by Rhian Williams
Illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom
Age Range: from 3 years
Picture book from Walker Books Australia
Review copy thanks to Walker books
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Click to view at Walker Books
A child counts down the figs on the backyard fig tree, as each one is snatched away by a different Australian animal, in this ode to Australia’s natural landscape.
Ten little figs are on my tree. I love figs and they’re all for me. Ten Little Figs is a joyful rhyming picture book about a child keeping careful watch of the figs on the fig tree in his backyard. With his dog by his side, he counts down the number of figs as they are taken by various hungry Australian animals (flying fox, finches, green ants and others) until only one fig is left. Who will get that very last fig? Luckily Dad comes to the rescue and surprises his little one with the very last fig.
I sat down with my three and six-year-old to read Ten Little Figs. The story kept Mr 3 and Mr 6 in one place long enough to read the story from start to finish – Always a sign of a quality children’s book. When I asked them if they enjoyed the story, they both replied yes with smiles on their faces. Mr 3 then started bouncing up and down singing out AGAIN, AGAIN.
Ten Little Figs tells the tale of the native Australian sandpaper fig tree and its delicious bounty. It entertains by telling and showing all the native animals that feast from it.
The artwork is beautiful, the images appear bright and open, but they are also packed with detail and it was fun to watch my boys discovering all the details, pointing out what the puppy was doing and the different creatures hiding in the images.
The words have a lovely sing-song rhyme to them and flow easily off the tongue, making this book a delight to read out loud.
Things children might sneakily learn while enjoying the tale; Australian animal identification, Australian sandpaper fig tree identification, and a better understanding of some of the benefits to wildlife of green spaces.
Ten Little Figs celebrates native Australian plants and wildlife and all the things one can discover in one’s own backyard.
About the author
Ten Little Figs is by newcomer Rhiân Williams. She is an ardent explorer of the natural world and is passionate about stories and children’s books. She lives in country NSW.
About the illustrator
Nathaniel Eckstrom is an illustrator based in Sydney, Australia. He has worked on a number of children’s picture books including Stubborn Stanley, The Hole Idea, Roadtrip and The Dress-Box. DUCK!, written by Meg McKinlay, was his first book with Walker Books. His second is Ten Little Figs, written by Rhian Williams.
Battledoors: The Golden Slate
by Brian Wilkinson
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publication: April 3rd 2018
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Source: Review copy from the publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵
Life constantly seems to be wavering between really good and really bad for Owen, a lonely sixteen-year-old still reeling from the unexpected death of his mother and a fresh move to Toronto. After ducking into an old bookstore to escape high school bullies, Owen discovers that he can travel to a parallel, twisted version of the city with a magical tablet called a Battledoor, where he encounters new allies, bizarre creatures, and the ultimate antagonist who will stop at nothing to procure the magical Golden Slate for himself.
Forced to work together with friends and enemies in order to return home, Owen is faced with a series of choices that will prompt him to find courage he never knew he had, explore the possibility of romance, and try to find a way to let go of his painful past and move on. But is Owen ready to finally take control, and become the protagonist of his own story?
I first started reading this book in January 2018 when I received an eARC to read and review. I gave up reading it the first time around because I couldn’t stand the character of James. I really liked the sound of the book and the main character Owen was a sweetheart, so rather than just DNF the book, I put it back on my TBR to try again at a later time – In my head, I was thinking later in the year (2018). Oops, here we are over two years later. BUT It was worth the wait as I ended up enjoying the book enough to be tempted to purchase the second book to see how things turn out for Owen and his friends.
When we first meet 16-year-old Owen he is emotionally exhausted and lonely, fed up with the hustle and bustle of his new city and the bullying at his new school. Owen spends most of his days trying to blend in and be invisible, while morning the loss of his mother. More characters join the story quite early on, with love interest Emily and her friend Bea, and bullies James and Lucas. After only a few chapters the teens are all thrown into the chaos of another world together. Que giants wanting to boil them in brews, evil fairies wanting to eat their skins and helpful strangers who appear to straight out of the eighteen-hundreds.
This book gives off major Never-Ending Story and Jumanji vibes and that part I loved. For the most part, it read as an MG adventure book, but then there were moments (mainly surrounding James) that were darker and sat more in YA territory.
I will say that the character of James is a psychopath that needs medical intervention and I found that the moments focusing on him detracted from my enjoyment. I think the author was trying for a Draco Malfoy moment, but the thing with Malfoy is that he’s not truly evil. James just came off as a serial killer in the making.
Battledoors #1, The Golden Slate, for the most part is world-building and getting to know the characters, which I did find enjoyable to read. We don’t meet the antagonist, the big bad guy, until later in the story – Then the story ends on a cliffhanger. And you need to go out and grab Battledoors #2, The Black Spyre, just to see what the outcome is. Argh, Cliffhangers!!
I think this book is best suited to younger YA readers who are into adventure stories but be prepared that they might be requesting the second book immediately after finishing the first.
Esme’s Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: November 30th 2019
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Source: Review copy from Author – Thank you Elizabeth
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.
In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.
Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.
Esme’s Gift follows 16-year-old Esme as she and her friends travel around Aeolia tracking down ingredients for a magical elixir to try and save her mother. We see Esme’s gift (magical ability) develop further and she her learn to control it just in time. Esme and her friends all must use their varied gifts to figure out the correct ingredients for the elixir, collect them and outsmart the bad guy.
There was even more dragon riding in this the second book and who doesn’t love a story that involves dragons and the characters getting to ride them!!
The founders of Aeolia were refugees from Ancient Greece and the stories architectural backdrop reflects this bit of Foster’s world-building. The world of Aeolia is familiar enough for the reader to feel at home, yet unique enough to keep you entertained. As with the first book, the writing followed well, was well-paced and easy to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed journeying with Esme and her friends again. I found this book to be like a good long hug from an old friend. It lifted my spirits immensely.
Esme’s Gift is a well-rounded fantasy tale with a satisfying ending, and yet enough is left untold to keep you looking forward to the next installment. – We still need to catch Mare and find out what happened to Seth!
Esme’s Gift is a story of friendship, a story of love, a story of never giving up and never losing hope.
I would recommend the Esme series to any #LoveOzYA aficionados and lovers of YA fantasy like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Medoran Chronicles.
Click HERE for my review of the first book in the Esme’s Series, Esme’s Wish.
Reads this month: Candy Hearts, The heart of Space, Runaways: that was yesterday, The Witch Boy, The Hidden Witch, Mindful Parenting, The Boys of Summer, Panic and Frenzy.
#AusYABloggers Fun In The Sun prompt: #LoveOzYA book, The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan.
#TBRtrim20 New: The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag.
#TBRtrim20 Old: The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan.
Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan | ★ 4/5 | Queer, Erotic Romance | VIEW.
The Heart of Space by Cendrine Marrouat | ★ 3/5 | Poetry | VIEW.
There is still time to jump on board with the challenges I’m doing this year > > >
Reading Challenge One: If you are after an easy, fun, social and super chill reading challenge for next year, then take a look at the #AusYABloggers 2020 Reading Challenge There are prizes up for grabs and you only have to read a book a month, that fits that months theme to qualify.
Reading Challenge Two: If you want to slash your TBR and are an Instagram user then #TBRtrim20 could be for you. This one also has prizes up for grabs and you can totally do both challenges at the same time, I will be! Even doing both you are only committing yourself to read a minimum of three books a month – obviously, you can read MORE if you are able/want to.
The Heart of Space by Cendrine Marrouat
Publication: January 14th 2020
Source: Tour copy from Sliver Dagger Book Tours – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵
“The Heart of Space” is a collection of 38 pieces that delve into several major topics, including solitude, the importance of embracing pain, and the lessons one can learn from self-discovery.
“Every single poem is utterly endearing, imbued with a careful sense of introspection, philosophical musings and above all a genuine feeling of hope that, no matter what happens to us in our lives, in the end things will turn out all right.” – David Ellis, Author of “See A Dream Within: Found “Poe”try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe”
In this collection The Heart of Space the poems all revolve around embracing pain and death, as well as finding solitude and one’s self. It is a collection of healing. Through Cendrine’s words you sense that she was healing as she penned these poems. Reflecting on this collection I am thinking that maybe we are all constantly healing in some form or another.
I do not know of what faith Cendrine is, but “God” features heavily in her poems. I think If you are a believer in God then this collection would hold a lot more power for you than it did for me. Nevertheless, I found The Heart of Space to be a lovely collection of 38 poems. The poems that touched me the most were; True Art, What is love and Death Unleashed.
I sat and read over True Art multiple times and reflected. Swapping out the word “God” with “The Universe” in my mind, I found this poem touched me greatly. True Art tackles how loss can make us stronger, the way we deal with loss, how it makes us feel and to not be afraid. I actually sat and penned a poem in response to /inspired by True Art and the whole collection as a whole?
In the introduction to The Heart of Space Cendrine states that she wrote this book of poems “during my early days as a poet” and that her style has changed now, and she now prefers writing Haikus. I’ve never gotten the hang of Haikus and but am now keen to read a collection of Cendrine’s. I also intend to check out the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal that she co-founded, stated as featuring uplifting poetry, no matter the topic.
About the Author
Thank you for your interest in my work!
My name is Cendrine Marrouat. (It is pronounced as “san-drEEn mar-wah”. The “t” at the end is optional.) Originally from Toulouse, France, I moved to Winnipeg, Canada, in 2003. I am a dual citizen.
I am a photographer, specializing in nature, black-and-white and closeup images. My photography seeks the mundane to capture the fleeting, but true beauty of life in its many forms.
I approach photography in the same way as I write poetry. It’s not about the tools. It’s about the moment when my eyes catch a story that needs to be told. What happens next, is a spiritual yearning to describe the scene with my camera. However, it is during the editing process that my poetic background comes into play. Every photo must achieve two goals: simplicity and serenity. I use the pure black and white format to convey timelessness. Occasional tinges of sepia are for added depth. Finally, colors stand for romanticism.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan
Series: So Over the Holidays #2
Publisher: Erin McLellan
Release Date (ebook): Feb. 3, 2020
Length: 50k word
Subgenre: contemporary romance, holiday romance, erotic romance
Warnings: explicit sex and language
View on Goodreads | Order now
Mechanic Benji Holiday is so over Valentine’s Day and men who don’t get him. A weekend getaway with friends to escape the holiday hubbub is exactly what he needs. But William O’Dare—a stern and silent nightclub owner with “Be My Valentine” practically stamped on his forehead—throws a wrench into Benji’s plans.
William has spent years focused on his career, and it has cost him friendships and love. Inexperienced in the business of romance, he’s on the hunt for the perfect partner, and he’s armed with specific criteria to guide him. But William didn’t expect a hunky mechanic wrapped in satin and lace to show up on his doorstep.
Unable to resist their attraction, Benji and William agree to be secret fake valentines for the weekend, but secrets have a way of getting out. William gets struck by Cupid’s arrow, and as the weekend winds down, he doesn’t want fake or secret. He wants Benji to be his valentine for real and for keeps.
Candy Hearts is a male/male Valentine’s Day novella featuring a house party power outage, meddling friends and siblings, naughty lingerie and naughtier toys, homemade Valentine’s Day cards, and a happily ever after.
The story opens with Benji heading off for a party weekend that his sister roped him into out of town. Benji gets all the way out to the lake house his sister told him it was being held at, only to find out no one else is there other then the attractive but standoffish home owner. We quickly find out the William (the home owner) had told the quests that the power was out and the party had to be pushed back a day – Benji never got this message. Awkward introductions out of the way, boisterous Benji is a crack up as he maneuvers around sour socks William. Soon Benji starts to wear off on William and sexy high jinks proceed. I mean what else are two queer men who are physically attracted to each other supported to do in a house without any electricity, hmmm.
Benji’s been hurt many a time and now tries to remain closed off from romantic connections. William has been out of the dating seen for quite awhile, focusing on building his carrier. All the sexy high jinks give Benji and William a feeling of instant connection and they open up to each other through a series of deep and meaningful conversations. By the end of the party weekend they both realise that there may be more that’s worth exploring other than erroneous zones and how to make each other moan.
All in all Candy Hearts is a super cute, cheeky and fun happily-ever-after queer read, that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I recommend this book to anyone who’s after a super cute romantic pick-me up type read – as long as you man handle of whole bunch of man on man action.
About the author: Erin McLellan is the author of several contemporary romances, all of which have characters who are complex, goodhearted, and a little quirky. She likes her stories to have a sexy spark and a happily ever after. Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska and spends her time dreaming up love stories set in the Great Plains. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.
#AusYABloggers New Beginnings Prompt: #LoveOzMG book, Ninja Kid #1 (from nerd to ninja) by Anh Do. Ninja Kid gives as; a boy with new Ninja powers, a forest full of deadly giant spiders, and a school trip no one will forget. It’s a fun and exciting read, with the underlying message of believing in yourself, practice makes perfect and that anything is possible – all valuable messages for both young and old.
#TBRtrim20 New: Why yes I am doubling up, bite me, I’m a busy mum with two little boys who works full time, I gotta catch a break somewhere. And it was a Christmas purchase so it totally counts. Ninja Kid #1 (from nerd to ninja) by Anh Do.
#TBRtrim20 Old: I originally planned to read Shadows of the realm because it is the oldest book on my Goodreads TBR. But as I’ve got all three books sitting on the shelf, I knew if I read it and loved it, i’d want to head straight into the next two. So, It will have to wait until I have the time to dedicate to all of the books in the trilogy.
So, to pick another old read I was browsing the early end of my TBR Goodreads shelves, just focusing on books I owned and see if any of them grabbed my attention and I couldn’t for the life of me remember how I came to have a copy of Chosen by the Alpha (The Shadow Pack Rules #1) by Michele Bardsley. I figured that was a good enough reason to read it.
★ 4/5 | NA, Romance, Urban Fantasy | The Cursed Key (The Cursed Key Trilogy #1) by Miranda Brock & Rebecca Hamilton | VIEW.
★ 4/5 | Adult, Reverse Harem, Urban Fantasy | Ghost Revelations (Ghost Dud #1) by Aspen Black | VIEW.
★ 2/5 | Graphic Novel, Fantasy | The Tree of Life by Jérôme Hamon | VIEW.
★ 4/5 | YA, Fantasy, Romance | Enshrine by Kay Bennson | VIEW.
There is still plenty of time to jump on board with the challenges I’m doing this year > > >
Reading Challenge One: If you are after a easy, fun, social and super chill reading challenge for next year, then take a look at the #AusYABloggers 2020 Reading Challenge There are prizes up for grabs and you only have to read a book a month, that fits that months theme to qualify.
Reading Challenge Two: If you want to slash your TBR and are an Instagram user then #TBRtrim20 could be for you. This one also has prizes up for grabs and you can totally do both challenges at the same time, I will be! Even doing both you are only committing yourself to reading a minimum of three books a month – obviously you can read MORE if you are able/want to.
Enshrine by Kay Bennson
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Publication: June 4th, 2017
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Source: Review copy from YA Bound Book Tours – Thank You
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When Sage Wolfe is accidentally mistaken for a peace offering, her world turns upside down. Dayton, the young, handsome, and insane King of Rosementh whisks her away to his castle to be his bride with the promise that he can give her the world and anything she desires. These offers becoming tainted as Dayton’s true colors show themselves; he is cruel and violent and Sage vows to run away or die trying.
Just when Sage thinks she is hitting rock bottom, a hooded stranger named Jonathan Kreider comes to the castle. He doesn’t say much but his actions speak for themselves. Not only can he wield a sword or shoot an arrow better than most of Dayton’s men, but he always seems to be a step behind Sage, and though it should terrify her, for the first time Sage finds herself filling with hope.
Sage is faced with a choice. Should she run away from the wicked king who took her away from her family? Or should she stay to learn more about the man who lurks in the shadows, the man that makes her heart race and almost makes suffering Dayton’s wrath worthwhile? Sage is about to discover that nothing is as it seems and everyone has secrets; Dayton, the man that calls himself Jonathan Kreider, and even herself.
I love it when a book pleasantly surprises me. I signed up to read Enshrine when I saw it in YA Bound’s review call out email late last year. At the time I was in a bit of a mood and thought, I could go for a good old basic love triangle fantasy. That’s not what this ended up being, but back to that a little later. I received the ecopy and then realised it was a 2017 release. It didn’t fill me with hope that the author was still trying to build up reviews a few years down the track. In the end I went into reading this one a little apprehensive, but ended up really enjoying it!! Love it when a book not only beats my expectations, but blows them out of the water.
Firstly, there is no love triangle. Secondly, this book got me hooked and so much more invested in Sage’s life then I expected AND that epilogue! If Kay ever writes a sequel, i’ll be reading it. Thirdly, Sage’s true love interest. Not the piece of crap boy king, but the sexy man muffin warrior that was Jonty (Jonathan). Jonty was a good dude. Okay a little messed up thanks to his daddy and mummy, but a good dude, and fortunately an excellent fighter. He always treated Sage like she was his equal and taught her how to fight and survive on the run. In the end they both ended up saving each other a few times over and fell in love and lived happily ever after.
Now to the piece of crap boy king Dayton, that tried as hard as he could, and almost succeeded in ruining that happily ever after. Dayton was a Ramsay/Joffrey type, so umm… trigger warnings for domestic violence. Thankfully you never saw the darker stuff, it was just hinted at.
All in all this was an extremely enjoyable YA fantasy romance romp. Our heroine goes from being the lowly poor eldest daughter of a war widow, who’s prospects for the future are low and sad in the little village she calls home – to a well traveled sassy ass kicking adventure seeking young woman. And she picks up some arm candy along the way. Way to go Sage!!