Category Archives: book review

Review of A Demon and His Witch (Welcome to Hell #1), by Eve Langlais

I picked up a Kindle copy of Eve LanglaisA Demon and his Witch, quite a long while ago. And I upgraded to an Audible copy on my recent audio-book buying binge.

Description from Goodreads:

Burning alive is nothing compared to the heat of his touch.

Roasted at the stake as a witch, while her lover watches, Ysabel sells her soul to the devil in return for revenge. A fair trade until her ex-boyfriend escapes the bowels of Hell and she’s forced to team up with a demon to fetch the jerk back.

Remy’s seen a lot of things during his long tenure in Lucifer’s guard, but nothing can prepare him for the witch with the acerbic tongue–and voluptuous figure. Her mouth says ‘Screw you’, but her body screams ‘Take me’. What’s a poor demon to do when his heart makes things even more complicated by goading him to make her his, forever?

Before he can decide if his demonizing days are done though, he needs to catch the bad guys, save the girl and then find a way to convince her to love him and not kill him.

Welcome to Hell where you’re screwed if you do and damned if don’t. And just so you know, Lucifer’s got a special spot reserved for you… 

Review:

I picked this up expecting a funny, fluffy, sexy romp. What I got instead was an entire book of the heroine forcefully saying she wasn’t interested and a ‘hero’ who never backed off, groping her when unconscious and such. The book is just CONSTANT innuendo and icky rape-culture insistence that regardless of what a woman says, if a man persists he’ll get the girl. It even uses several of the stock phrases, like, “her voice said no, but her tone said yes.”

If I’m honest, there was probably a time (years ago) when I could have read this and only noticed the funny bits (and there are some) and think, “it’s so hot he wants her so bad.” But growing up and learning to think even minimally critically about what I read blitzed it. This is frankly just gross. Which is a shame. I’ve read Langlais in the past and not hated it (here, here and here, all in 2013). Now I have to wonder if those books were better or I was just oblivious to their badness.

Mindy Kennedy did a fine job with the narration, but I wonder how many times she had to take a break and step away to keep her voice steady. I didn’t sense a single eye-roll in it.

Review of Wisteria Witches, by Angela Pepper

I received an Audible credit from Angela Pepper to get the box set of the first three Wisteria Witches book. However, I’m choosing to review only the first here on the blog.

Description from Goodreads:

Zara Riddle moves to the town of Wisteria for a dream job as a librarian. She hasn’t even unpacked her moving boxes when she and her teen daughter, Zoey, are swept up in a murder mystery.

With all the ghosts and supernatural creatures around (Including a real hunk of a wolf shifter! Meow!) it’s a good thing the Riddle women are tougher than they look. Now, if only they could handle their new witch powers as well as they’ve mastered their sarcastic wit!

Review:

This didn’t work for me. Though I suspect it is a matter of taste over quality. There are some consistency issues, people knowing things they haven’t been told and such, and I thought the dialogue got too formal at times (especially considering how informal Zara is in general). But for the most part what bothered me wasn’t a matter of the book being bad, but of it being everything I dislike. 

I found Zara intensely annoying! Yes, I see that we’re supposed to think her Gilmore Girl cute. But I found her endless blather like nails on a chalkboard, all her constant media references trite, and her naiveté insincere. I felt like even the author thought her immature, often excusing the things she says by calling them juvenile, long-standing jokes between her and her daughter. The book falls short of calling anyone a poopy-head, but not by much, and only because it’s so committed to “ding-dong.” 

Calling Zara and her crew Mary-Sues would be an understatement. On the upside, the book is 100% clean, not even a curse word is uttered. On the downside, it means the book lacks any sort of grit. So much so that there is barely any tension. I was just this side of board for all of it.

Plus, the book takes a long time to pick up any kind of speed, spending far too much time on dinners and descriptions. (Hope you like adjectives.) Then, once it does, the mystery essentially solves itself off page, leaving the reader out of the action. 

Lastly, I disliked Tiffany Williams’ narration style. It fit the book really well, actually. And again, the quality is fine. But the places she emphasizes words and her tone, etc, just highlights the overly-sensitive, overtly clean aspect of the book, making all my annoyances stand out even more. 

Please don’t take the last few paragraphs as my having an issue with clean stories. I just don’t know a better way to describe the feel of it, like it’s been scrubbed of anything interesting and real. I guess that’s my base issue, why people complain about Mary-Sues in general, they don’t feel real. They’re too idealized to relate to and thus feel fake. 

I actually have the audio boxset of the first three books. I went into them with really high hopes. I’m all about cozy paranormal mysteries right now and the main character even has my same name. When you’re named Zarah, that’s not something you encounter often. I will challenge myself to give the next book a try. Maybe with the world building done the next book will be better for me. I was disappointed with this. But I can 100% see all the things that irritated me so being exactly what another reader will love. To each their own.

Review of The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

I borrowed an audio copy of Melissa Albert‘s The Hazel Wood through Overdrive.

Description from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Review:
I actually checked this out from the library thinking it was something else. Once I realized my mistake I was wary to start it; I’ve just been so jaded with YA books lately. But I’m happy to report this isn’t an angst-ridden, soppy mess. There’s no real romance and Alice moves through the story of her own volition. I did think it lagged a bit at times and she conveniently hooked up with the one person who knew everything she needed to learn and could/would fund her. But all in all I enjoyed it. There’s some appreciable diversity in the cast a happily ever after grounded in realistic struggles. I don’t regret listening to the story and I thought Rebecca Soler did a fine job with the narration.