The End Zone Review and Giveaway


This is a smoking hot friends to lovers novella. Unlike far too many romance novellas, this story packs a polished, complete romance in the novella format. The reader will be thoroughly satisfied. Jolie Louis and Sage Poirer are lifelong friends, who continue their friendship in college. They are even roommates.

Sage’s handsome, chiseled body and status as the star quarterback has made it easy for him to manwhore through a never-ending supply of eager females. But despite her deep feelings for her friend, Jolie is not interested in joining his harem.

Sage has never been threatened by Jolie’s boyfriends. They were all wrong for Jolie. But when a fellow teammate and the perfect guy expresses an interest in Jolie, Sage gets angry. Then he realizes that he wants Jolie for himself.

As stated, this book is hot, hot, hot. The sexual attraction is palpable. The sex scenes are blazing. But the reader becomes aware that Sage has a secret, which might just end this romance.

I would highly recommend this novella. L.J. Shen remains one of my guilty pleasure writers. I just can’t get enough of her writing. To celebrate this new release, I am going to give away a free e-book of any L.J. Shen novel to one commentator to this post. Just post a comment on your favorite book read in 2018. I will pick randomly one winner on April 15, 2018.



Tarnished City by Vic James

Tarnished City

Last year, the first book in this series, The Gilded Cage, was my favorite book of the year. In a world where all the power and wealth is held by persons with magic and those persons lacking magic were condemned to ten years of slavery, it was a throat-clutching, emotionally gripping thriller of a fantasy novel.  Moreover, it challenged the reader to think about the abuse of power and enslavement.

This second book begins in despair. Luke, one of the heroes of the first novel, is imprisoned by a sadistic torturer for a crime Luke did not knowingly commit. Things do not improve. As in the real world, idealism, nobility, and courage aren’t always enough to fight cruelty, evil, and vast power.  Yet, Abi, Luke, Dina, and others do not surrender. They continue to strive.  They find allies. Sadly, they also see betrayal.

The novel reaches a boiling point. A savage, horrifying public execution of the rebels at the hands of a mob is staged when the author reminds us that heroes can be found in the unlikeliest persons.

This book kept me up late in the night. It was impossible to put down. Unlike The Gilded Cage, this novel reminded me of The Game of Thrones. Like the Game of Thrones, the reader becomes deeply immersed in the survival of the rebellious siblings, Abi and Luke, and their allies. Likewise, the reader keeps hoping for the punishment of evil. So far this hope has been unmet. Then there are the most complex characters, Silyen, Gavar, and the murderous Dog.  Assuredly not good people, but they evoke sympathy. Also, like The Game of Thrones, nothing can be taken for granted. The author is taking the reader on a journey, and the destination is uncertain. Like The Gilded Cage, this will be one of my favorite reads of the year. I highly recommend Tarnished City.


Popsugar Reading Challenge

For fun, I am doing the Ultitmate Popsugar Reading Challenge. Now I am not following the rules strictly. I did not read a Nordic noir in January. But I will read one this year. But I have read several books on the list. In February, I read a figure skating romance, from lukov with love by Mariana Zapata. I have also read several novels published in 2018. Next, on the list, I will read a book involving twins. I love twin stories. Below is the challenge.

January-Nordic Noir
February– A Book About or Involving Sport (Winter Olympics)
March-A Book About Feminism (Women’s History Month)
April-A Book that Involves a Bookstore or Library (National Library Month)
May-A Book About Mental Health (Mental Health Awareness Month)
June-A Book with an LGBTQ+ Protagonist (2018 Pride Month)
July-A Book Set at Sea
August-A Book with Characters who are Twins (National Twins Day is August 3rd)
September-A Book that is also a Stage Play or Musical
October-A Book About or Set on Halloween
November-A Book About Death or Grief
December-A Book that’s Published in 2018

Join the Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge on Goodreads. Here is the link,



Beauty is all that matters



In the archipelago of Orleans, individuals are born without beauty; they have gray skin and hair. Their eyes are red. But the citizens of Orleans worship beauty and they pay vast sums to be beautiful. All beauty comes from the magic of the Belles. The Belles are born beautiful. More importantly, they can create beauty. Camellia is a belle. And now on her sixteen birthday, she is competing with her sisters for the position of being Court belle.

But soon Camellia discovers that the glory and position she coveted for so many years has many perils. Beauty is a commodity. The wealthiest citizens undergo pain and near death to maintain their attractiveness. For some individuals, comeliness is a form of power, and they want to be the most beautiful in the land. Some individuals desire to abuse the power of the Belles to hurt others.

Then there are secrets. Why does Camellia hear crying at night? Who can she trust? Has her entire training been a lie? Soon Camellia discovers her sister Belles are also having difficulties with their new positions.

The Court is not a safe place for anyone. There is intrigue. There are power struggles. Eventually, Camellia must choose between her sense of honor and her duty. But her decision might be costly to everyone Camellia holds dear.

It was hard to put this novel down. The author created a fascinating world. The story begins with a competition. Despite the results, all the belles face perils in their new positions. There are deceptions on many levels. In the midst of this fantasy-mystery novel, there is an exploration of the dangers of beauty as a commodity. This novel both entertained and challenged the reader to consider an important issue regarding our culture and beauty.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

CruelprinceI am suffering a book hangover. The only relief is the promise of two more books in this trilogy. The Cruel Prince is the best Holly Black novel yet. This is no small statement. Black has impressed me with her immense talent from the very first. When I read Tithe, I realized YA didn’t mean kid stuff. While I pre-ordered The Cruel Prince nine months before it published and even though I purchased it as an e-book, print, and audible book so that all the Black fans in my family could enjoy it, I wasn’t prepared for the brilliance of this book. I could discuss various aspects of this novel for hours. At some point, I will listen to the audiobook just to savor the rich language.

The premise of the book is three sisters grow up in the land of faerie; the half-faerie sister wants to return to the human world, one sister wants to assimilate, and the heroine wants to triumph over the faeries. The story begins with the murder of the girls’ parents in the human world by a faerie.

As with all Black novels, the characters are complex, multi-faceted characters with flaws. For example, Jude, the protagonist, is a liar and her greatest desire is to become a killer. There is nothing cliché about her portrayal of the characters. The character development in this novel defies expectations.

This novel is a fantasy novel, but Black writes intelligently about real-world situations, including a love-hate relationship with an abusive family member and classroom bullying. The plot is intricate with twists and turns. Black takes the reader on a journey with no known destination.

The world building is phenomenal. It is a sensory delight as Black engages all the senses with her vivid, vibrant descriptions of the faerie world. The reader can imagine the taste of faerie fruit, the feel, and texture of an outfit composed of velvet and owl feather, and the pain of a knife plunged into a hand. Then there are the denizens of faerie, the horned, mischevious little boy, the green-skinned sprite with black eyes, and the hooved prince to describe a few. With these details, the reader is immersed in the world of faerie.

Due to her beautiful use of language, I tend to read Black novels much more slowly than other novels. But this book ended too soon. I wanted more. It is early in the year, but this may be the best book I read in 2018. I highly recommend it.

Bannerless was a Disappointment

When I first read Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville novels, I was impressed by her fresh take on the werewolf novel. Her characterizations and plots were skillfully executed. Every novel was an excellent read.

So when I had an opportunity to read her new post-apocalyptic mystery novel, I was thrilled and excited. Then it took me months to finish the novel. First, I blamed myself. I am a reader, who must be in the right mood for a book. But it wasn’t me. It is the book. This is one dull, plodding story. The story is larded with flashbacks to the heroine’s first romance and her trek across the country with musician lover. I have no issues with flashbacks. I have no issues with

The story is larded with flashbacks to the heroine’s first romance and her trek across the country with musician lover. I have no issues with flashbacks. I have no issues with a backstory. I have read and enjoyed books that chapters to get to the main characters. But the flashbacks in this story served no purpose. They just dragged an already slow pace.

The heroine, who is investigator and judge in the agrarian, post industrial world of the novel, is pedantic and judgmental. When the mystery of an outsider’s death is finally revealed, there is no surprise. The mystery was very predictable.

This novel does not work on so many levels. There is nothing unique about the post-apocalyptic world created. The main characters are not particularly interesting.  There is no real mystery. Vaughn is busy writing the sequel to Bannerless. Sadly I won’t be reading it.


The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco

This book is a wonderful cozy mystery involving a San Francisco astrologer. Julia Bonatti is enjoying some small success in her career. A local paper is publishing her astrology based advice column. She has a loyal clientele. But Mercury is in retrograde and life becomes difficult. A cult like religious group accuses her of being a witch. Escalating harassment and violence from the cult result in her taking refuge at the home of a client.

This novel was a perfectly paced, well-executed mystery. The author has carefully placed the clues. She has teased and bemused the reader with red herrings. Any astrology aficionado will enjoy her references to astrology. It is an excellent start to a new series.



A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

Gunnery Sergent Torin Kerr has left the military, but she is still immersed in the action. The former marine is now a peace keeper for the Justice department of the Confederation. When an outlaw group of Confederation and Primary species captures a team of scientists on a remote, uninhabited planet, Kerr finds herself leading a group of Confederate and Primary soldiers. The former enemies must unite and work together on this mission in an unknown terrain.

After seven books, this series does not flag. Torin Kerr is the tough, pragmatic leader of an interspecies group of former marines and civilians. Huff excels at characterization and world building. Yet it is the fast paced action that keeps the reader absorbed in the story from beginning to end. It is not necessary to read any other books in the two series involving Kerr to enjoy this book. It is military science fiction at its best.


The Rogue by Meredith Allen Conner

 Pia has been raised by the Order, a villanous group who want to use her elemental power. But despite experiments, abuse and torture, this elemental power has never appeared. Now on the run from the Order, Pia is on her own. She doesn’t dare find her long-lost sisters, who have themselves been hunted by the Order. But the Order isn’t the only predator following her.

This fourth and last book in The Elementals series was one of my favorites in the series. It didn’t have the laugh out humor of the first book, but it had a provocative romance. Full of action, this book brought the series to a satisfying conclusion. Pia is on a path of self discovery.  She has more power than she knows.   But she cannot take on the Order alone. She must learn to trust and rely on other people, including some scary werewolves.