Category Archives: book review

Review of The Woman Left Behind (GO-Team #2), by Linda Howard

I won a paperback copy of Linda Howard‘s The Woman Left Behind through Goodreads. However, it’s audiobooks I’ve been going through lately. So, I borrowed an audio version from Hoopla instead.

Description from Goodreads:

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun…or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina–who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice–making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.

Review:

This was a perfectly fine contemporary romance, I suppose. Certainly the writing is fine and the narrator (Saskia Maarleveld) did a good job. But what constitutes a satisfying story and happy ending apparently differs for the author and I. 

Literally half the book is Babe in training. So exactly half the book that I suspect there was a plot outline that demarcated two halves of the book. And I was bored with all of it. It felt very much like those YA, fantasy novels where you think you’re getting an exciting adventure but you get pages and pages of potions classes instead. 

But even once she finishes the endless training there is no real spark between the main characters and very little happens. The event of the blurb, which is made out to be the plot of the book, doesn’t happen until like 80% and it’s a nothing of an event (one night of running through the night to catch a flight, that she makes). It was a super let down. Certainly not the plot, just one thing that happens. 

But what really irritated me came as a result of that. After the whole book bing intensely focused on how determined Babe is to not be a quitter, and overcoming all her challenges, she quits. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that women have to be like men in a book. But what author would write her badass male character as willing to give up just because she had one bad mission? (Certainly none of the male Go-team menses are quitting.) It felt intensely like a girl not being able to hack it with the men. And I hate that. What’s more, the ‘romance’ was contingent on her quitting. So, you knew all along that she was going to eventually. Which made everything that came before irrelevant, even as you read it. 

None of this was helped by the fact the characters have sex for the first time after she quits. And it’s angry sex with no foreplay. So, it too was a let down. Certainly not worthy of being the only real one in the book. 

All in all, though this might be a fine book objectively, I’d give it a one star based on my own enjoyment. I disliked so very much about it. 

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.