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Publisher's Summary

Jolie was 3 when she found she was ugly and deformed.

She was 5 when she found she was a subhuman and an outcast. She was 7 when five boys and two girls dragged her out of the orphanage and beat her unconscious, leaving her lying bleeding and broken in the street.

She was content to lie there and die, tired of being hated and abused. But a frail old man with wispy white hair and a long beard wasn't content to let her die. He not only saved her, but he adopted her and passed on his unique martial art to her.

She was 20 when she headed to Delphi, the center of the United Systems of Perileos (USP) and the planet of her birth father, to find her place in his society.

Based on her unique upbringing, she decides to join the USP military, requesting to be assigned to the Tasmanians SFG, an elite all-male unit. The military brass is reluctant to deny her request and admit their enlistment contract permits bait-and-switch assignments. Instead, they agree to let her enter the school, thinking she couldn't possibly succeed - a Chihuahua competing against Rottweilers — and plan to make an example of her when she fails.

Although Jolie is small, she is not what she appears. But can her adopted father's art enable her to survive the treachery of the military brass, the grueling of the school, the prejudices of the instructors, and the testosterone of an all-male class.

And if she succeeds, can she thrive in the high-octane and all male environment of the Tasmanians? 

©2019 C. R. Daems (P)2020 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about Welcome to Hell

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    1 out of 5 stars

Somewhat Mary Sue-ish

The synopsis of the book makes it out to be something it isn't. The martial art in the narrative plays a very minor role the in the story, merely as an justification as to how she can survive the training with no military experience, and her lifetime of training merely conveys above average skills in hand-to-hand combat, nothing earth-shattering.

Obviously the story is set in the future, so the sexism displayed is over-the-top even for present-day, much less a more enlightened future. This may be somewhat of a reflection of the author, who casually assumes the truth of tropes of men being more logical and women being more emotional. But the author is over 70 years old, so this shouldn't be surprising.

For a science fiction story, the technology is pretty pedestrian, nothing that would sound unfamiliar to modern-day marines. No energy-based weapons or sensor technology, still using helicopters, and not a computer to be found. On second thought, maybe our current marines are better equipped.

Lastly, the conflicts our MC engages in seem morally reprehensible. First, she sides against striking mine workers, then she assaults a planet's native inhabitants to protect human colonists, even attacking native villages containing only women and children, which surely must be a war crime by even today's standards.

So, overall, there's nothing really interesting about this book and our MC isn't particularly sympathetic, so it was a tough slog to get through to the end once I realized I didn't like it.

33 people found this helpful

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Devils should not be your enemy .. bad move

This book popped up and looked interesting so I purchased it. I enjoyed the heck out of it. So much that I am immediately looking to see what else the author his written. I figure that's a pretty darn good recommendation.

17 people found this helpful

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A study in methods

This is a good one for showing that making assumptions will be a very bad for you.

4 people found this helpful

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Absurd, but fun

This book is a rather heavy handed parable on the superiority of thinking before you act and managing your emotions over charging in and pretending no fear in service of tough guy bravado. It wasn't enough that every major plot point was framed with the main character triumphing over angry bumbling fools because she took two seconds to think and clam her mind, but then every person she interacted with found it necessary to summarize the moral lesson for you by way of saying how wrong they were to underestimate her and her approach and how darned great she is.

(As a side note, I think the debates from other reviewers on sexism is a case of Poe's Law. Yes, there's plenty of over the top misogyny. But it's mostly there to demonstrate just vile the various straw characters are. It would be like an author using the kick-the-dog trope literally, then for reviewers to get enmeshed in a debate on animal abuse.)

Even so, it was an action packed adventure that I found myself engrossed by despite myself. The characters were distinctive and likable, the fight scenes vivid, and the tone oddly lighthearted in spite of the seemingly grim context. Between the absurd proselytizing and the military theme which isn't my usual thing I kept thinking I'd stop reading it any minute. Instead I got so caught up in the ride that I was done before I knew it.

3 people found this helpful

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Nice Story

I would say that this story comes off better than his series "The Black Guard." My complaint would be that the writer spends a great deal of time pushing this narrative that seems to be that guys are these lumbering testosterone-filled beasts who have a need to smash something. Other than the main character, women at times come off as being these delicate flowers who might not be able to protect themselves. In my opinion, had the writer leaned off this narrative just slightly I would've given this book a higher rating, however, with that said I believe the listener will still find this story worth the credit.

3 people found this helpful

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Really good story EXCEPT for..

Please, please, please STOP using this story as a one person monologue on womens empowerment; this story nearly manages to exclude ANY male charachters except as comical side kicks or fall guys to female empowerment. Spec Ops is absolutely about team work. The author seems to have forgotten there is no "I" IN team.Way to many instances where Fox wins the battle AND seemingly, the enture war, all by herself. Really?This posture is insulting. Also in an era or Star travel why do the soldiers NEVER have anything so mundane as arillery and air support? Again, leaving such realities out really degrades the "reality" sense of the story.

On the plus side Fox is very engaging and I like her but don't demean her achievement by cheap grandstanding of "I am woman here me roar". It's cool to see tough women and a foolish device, at best, to use an otherwise great story as a cheap political conveyance.
Enhance women you BUT DO NOT MARGINALIZE MEN in the process.!

All of that aside, I will read Book 2. If I see more of what bothers me as the ongoing central them by Chapter 5 I'll return it for a refund and never revisit the series.

2 people found this helpful

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Nonstop action is a good description

I really enjoy many of the books authored by CR Daems and will continue to seek out his work. However, this book did not resonate with me. It lacks the quirky humor found in the first three books of the Red Angel series, or the Rhis gambit series. However, I suspect that fans of military action books will enjoy this work.

I did see an earlier review that expressed displeasure on the Male Stereotype vs Female Stereotype which is woven throughout the book. It is there and is one of the themes woven into the story to bring it to life. I did not find it "preachy" or offensive. However, I am sure that a person could infer lots of their personal experiences into the theme if they wanted. Isn't that a mark of a good author?

2 people found this helpful

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GI JANE in spaaaaaaaaaaaace...

if GI Jane was a robotic (not literally) supersoldier who never failed a task, did something wrong, or didn't already know how to do LITERALLY everything. I don't think the author understood that if the character had no room to develop in the story, the character can't develop. Space GI Jane just runs around beating up men and proving GIRLS RULE BOYS DROOL. She super-smartly Karens herself into a super elite BOYS ONLY military unit. She then serves in this rank-free military unit, is instantly the bestest super soldier EVER and beloved by her comrades and superiors alike, even before she even sees any combat. I mean, there's no story here. NOTHING to make me want to keep reading if she's PERFECTLY AMAZEBALLS right out of the gate.

1 person found this helpful

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The best.

I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK. EVERYTHING IT TOOK ME A WAY.THINK YOU SOMUCH FOR THIS ...

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fair

I struggled to finish this. Our MC starts story abused because of deformaties. She verbalizes about her deformaties. No description is made of what they are or how they affect her. Her deformaties don't stop her from wearing human clothes and using human tools etc. It's only her sex that is main deterent to joing the special forces like she wants. The story is predictable and slow. The reader does an excellent job.

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  • Jake
  • 08-06-21

Good if short

This is a good military book with lots of action. The atmosphere of a military unit is well created and stay away from the Hollywoodish military bs that we see much to often. I am a veteran of the Danish army but soldiers across nations can quickly spot if an author understands the soldiers mind or not and it does not matter if it the Roman legions or Colonial marines.
Women in combat and in special forces is a big topic in the book and I feel that Fox is a female lead with a realistic chance to pass such training.
Then my army has had women in combat since Bosnia so it isn't a question anymore just a fact of army life.
Fox is of course exceptional but unlike a heroine like Winter we are not told constantly, instead we are shown how good she is more in the way of Honor Harrington.
At times the other soldiers seem a bit too dense but some explanations are needed to fill out the plot and world.
I got the book free as part of my membership, do the same and have a go, I will get the next book for sure

7 people found this helpful

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  • AudiobookDevotee
  • 10-09-21

GI Jane in Space but Fun

This is a strange but fun book. Essentially like GI Jane (the film), a woman joins special forces, people are misogynistic, she proves herself, everyone likes her. It's a complete Mary Sue powertrip but it is really, really fun and I enjoyed listening to it; so much so that I bought the sequel and listened to it immediately after.

The characters are fine, there are some baddies but there's never any military ethics or PTSD. Everyone is enthusiatic, loves war and agrees with the main character. The main character is very much written in the I'm-not-like-those-other-girls style and immediately assumes no other woman can accomplish what she has because they're women.

She also claims to be raised in a unisex manner but plays up to a lot of female stereotypes for her male friends amusement. Her dialogue in a non-military setting isn't great. You want to skip the post-mission storytelling bits by skipping to the end of the chapter. They're only a few minutes but cringeworthy and painful but everyone cheers and applauds (as they do whenever the main character says anything in a non-military setting).

The world also makes no sense. You have a multi-planet spacefaring empire of largely humans and they train their elite trools in small unit tactics and knife fighting. They even get sent against an otherwise undefeatable group of bow and arrow weilding jungle folk. They have drones. They have infrared. Jungle bandits wouldn't keep killing off every army unit sent it.

On top of that the conflicts are small and the units sent in are always undersized. "They're planning a planetary rebellion. They've got hundreds of people. We'll send a few dozen." I'm not sure there was ever a "war" with over 1,000 people involved.

The plot is episodic but works well to get the characters in different situations and make them tense and exciting.

The narrator is also quite slow. Even if you don't normally speed up I'd recommend at least 1.1x speed. I usually listen at 1.05x and that still felt too slow.

It may sound like I've trashed this book, and I sort of have but the reason I've given it 5 stars is despite all of that stuff it is fun! Like really Fast and Furious, Point Break or Con Air, it's madcap dumb fun that you can just sit back and enjoy without engaging your brain too much.

2 people found this helpful

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  • hcapowell
  • 09-14-21

Loved it

I normally struggle with audio books but damn I was hooked from the start. Brilliant story and fantastic narration. Thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to listen to more of this and see what crazy antics happen next.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joga
  • 09-10-21

Like it and don't know why

The narration is good. The story too. Although I am not sure why. I began listening, it wasn't boring, so I finished the book. Makes sense? Have no idea what genre this story is either. Landed here by accident and somehow am liking it. Even if the heroine is strangly perfect, and has suddenly everything going her way. Maybe the beginning of the story is so grim, you can't leave the heroine till the story ends. Wanting her to succeed. But the story is so slim on emotions, it would make more sense if I just liked the battles and the reasoning behind the moves. Certainly a new category for me.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Duncan Forbes
  • 09-06-21

A good yarn

What can I say?
A female Chuck Norris.
Story is bit corny, but still a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-21

Absolutely Phenomenal

I simply could not put this audible book down. So descriptive and full of action with heroism. Full of ideas and So much team spirit with free rain to be the best. Exceptionally well narrated and truly amazing story away to dive right into the next in the series. So please keep writing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-16-21

pretty decent

a fairly likable MC, fast paced action. well narrated and written. I'll be interested in seeing how the story progresses

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  • Chrissy’s Book Shelf
  • 12-08-21

Action Packed Military Sci Fi

This is the first book in a continuing series, however the story ends at a natural break in the narrative.

Joile was 7 years old when she was beaten and left to die by children in the same orphanage as her. Rescued by a martial arts masters he taught her to think differently and to fight in a unique style. When he awarded her the title of Master in his art he suggested she travel to the planet of her father’s birth where she won’t look so different.

Joile arrives on New Delphi she decides to join the armed forces, determined to become a member of the Tasmanian Devils, a special forces unit with a unique structure. However, women have never been members of the Tasmanian Devils. She is determined to succeed and takes the techniques her adopted father has taught her and applies it to the arduous selection process.

This is not a complicated story, however it is an entertaining one. I really liked the main character Joile, who was determined, intelligent, adaptive and highly skilled. Her training with her adopted father was not easy, but it turned her into a strong willed and honed warrior. She was personable and people really enjoyed her company. At first I was sceptical about that part of her personality and then I remembered that she took part in her father’s classes for years and was probably used to the competitive banter surrounding the martial arts, which was easily transferred to an elite military unit.

I really liked the Tasmanian Devils unit. The unit structure is unique and allows the plot to move Joile into situations that challenge her and utilise her unique skill set. Joile was pushed into situations most women would find uncomfortable and thrived because she simply did not allow her gender to be an issue to her, except that it gave her some limitations and other strengths that a man might not experience. Once she showed what she was capable of, the unit didn’t treat her differently because she was one of them.

The selection process and training takes up a large section of the book as Joile meets the various challenges set for her both as part of the program and due to the politics of being a woman applying for a position in an all male unit. It also covers her first two campaigns with the unit which allows the author to show Joile using her abilities and growing into an important figure in the unit. It also shows the author’s ability to write exciting and high octane battles on the ground, which is unusual given that most military Sci-Fi tends to run towards space battles. It was a nice change because the battles are won not with technology but by tactics and skills.

I really enjoyed the narration by Emily Woo Zeller and it was one of the things that drew me to listening to this book. I’d not heard of the author but I knew I liked this narrator who has a good range of voices for different characters and really draws you into the story. She definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this book, which I might not have been so absorbed by if I’d simply read it as an ebook.

I will definitely be listening to the next book in the series.

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  • Godfred Kuffour
  • 11-29-21

Personal opinion

The story is good and all but as someone who has read alot of books I can't unsee the lack of details in general but over all on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 6+.

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  • Bon Dignam
  • 09-06-21

great adventure

kicka$$ heroine, good story line, cant really ask for more...
I have already purchased the next in series

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  • Bigpallooka
  • 03-20-20

Another great read from Mr Daems

C.R. Daems generally writes coming of age stories about girls/women in a science fiction setting. This is my favorite story line and every one of his titles, while following that style is uniquely original.

I bought the eBook and the second in the series and when this came out in audio I bought that too. I have listened to and read this story 3 times in the last six months and eagerly await an audio version of the second in the series and any more in the series Mr Daems intends to write. I have recently found several novels of his that I haven't read and intend to download them shortly.

I applaud the choice of narrator. One of the issues I have is that once I have read a book I have given the characters their own voices so it can be jarring when a narrator goes in another direction with the characters. This performance felt right.

If you like this book I highly recommend his other series and novels some of which are available as audiobooks and some only as eBooks and paperbacks.