Litchick's Hit List

Honest book reviews. Also, snark.

The Ultimate Troll

In case anyone was wondering how I spent my afternoon, I'll give you five guesses:

 

a) Working (because I love my job)

b) Working (because I really should)

c) Working (because I'm an adult and that's what's expected of me)

d) Working (because I'd like to continue to make my mortgage payments on time, my car payments, my credit card payments, and still put money in my 401k and in savings because I don't want to try and live off social security alone because I've seen how poorly that worked out for my one grandmother (the one on my mother's side, not the one on my dad's, she invested wisely in her youth and is now sitting pretty))

e) Reading everything David Thorne has ever posted on his website

 

If you answered e, you're correct! Anyways, I know we bitch and moan about BBAs all the time, and for a while I've been of the opinion that it is never wise for an author to engage a reader about their negative opinion of their book.

 

I've changed my mind.

Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 389 pages.

Touched by an Alien - Gini Koch

Me: This is really fun!
Fiancé: *glances at title* *raises eyebrow*
Me: Yeah, ignore that, I think it’s supposed to be a joke.
Fiancé: Are you sure?
Me: Of course.
Fiancé: I can’t help but wonder after the gargoyle porn incidents last summer.
Me: Hey, it wasn’t really gargoyle porn.
Fiancé: Yeah, but you were hoping it would be.
Me: *awkward silence*

I am disappoint

Magic Breaks - Ilona Andrews

Shit.



I'm not going to post a full review until closer to the release date per the publisher's request. So for now, I'll say that I had high hopes for this, and I'm pretty bummed that they weren't met. I didn't enjoy the previous book thanks to the contrived relationship angst (among other things), but I still had full faith in this series. I'm sad to say that it's beginning to slip. My main gripes: 

- Plot filler abounds
- WTFery
- Deus ex machina
- Plot holes
- No chemistry
- Anti-Kate behavior
- Anticlimactic 
- Cheesy ending
FUCKING RABBIT HOLE

Seriously, that last one. This was me for over half of this book:



The other half I was stuck at "What's the fucking point of this scene?" 

Womp, womp 

:(

Free Smut!

Scandal - Navessa Allen

Sorry I've been away again! My life has been consumed by writing smut. Okay, so it's not that smutty, there's an actual plot in there too.

 

Anywho, I'm planning on publishing it this summer/fall (depending how long the editing process takes, etc), but until then, you can read along chapter by chapter on my website. I warn you, I enjoy torturing my readers by ending each with a cliffhanger.

 

MWAH HA HA HA HA.

So...

You remember that one time I took over a month off to start work on a smutty historical romance

Well...this is awkward.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

 

So, most of my friends love this book. Naturally, I wanted to as well. I blame the herd mentality. 

Baaah. 

Did I love this book? At times, yes. Did I also loathe this book? At times, yes. It’s made deciding on a rating a much more daunting task than I normally face. After reflecting on it for some time, and re-reading my f-bomb laden notes, I’m going with two stars, because as a whole, I did not enjoy this. 

While I greatly detested some aspects, I can still recognize gorgeous prose when I see it. Honestly, I almost gave this three stars for the writing alone, because it’s so beautiful that it becomes distracting, and when you pair this with a hauntingly gothic setting? Magic.

“Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long, tenacious fingers.”

What ruined this for me were the attitudes and the actions of those depicted within it. I’m not one of those readers that have to love characters to enjoy a story or appreciate its message. There have been quite a few instances where I’ve rated a book highly even when I hated every single person in it. That’s because while I didn’t necessarily agree with what they were doing, or their thought processes, I understood them on some level. 

Sadly, this is not the case with Rebecca. The female lead, who is also the narrator, is left without a name throughout. Upon reading the afterward, I’m wondering if that’s because it would have been all too obvious if the author had named her Daphne. She is the very definition of a Mary Sue, taking almost entirely after the person who created her. But, for the sake of this review, let’s call the MC Not Cory. I think it has a catchy ring to it. It’s also fitting, as she is the complete and total opposite of me in almost every way imaginable. 

When the book opens, Not Cory is reflecting on her life, and the remaining pages focus on the events she’s reliving. It all begins in Monte Carlo, with her as the companion to a tactless and garish woman of means. A chance encounter has her bumping into a wealthy Englishman named Maxim de Winter, a man twenty years her senior and recently widowed. 

What follows is a whirlwind courtship set against the backdrop of the south of France. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Er, not so much. This part of the book served as nothing more than a reminder of how foolish first love can make us. My hat is off to Du Maurier for her flawless portrayal of this time in our lives, when your future is spread out in front of you and all your fantasies still seem tangible. 

What made it that much more difficult to read was the MC. Not Cory is a dreamer; she lives largely inside of her head, and the smallest thing, from her companion choosing to host a cocktail party, to the rising of the sun, can send her mind spinning as she plays out the infinite consequences of these things. 

This tendency becomes obsessive when Maxim enters the picture. Where she is both immature and naïve, he is complicated and divided. Her happiness becomes dependent on his smiles, her misery decided by a harsh word. Thanks to their age difference, he’s forgotten what this is like, how raw and all-consuming first love can be, and he’s careless with her feelings because of it. He takes complete advantage of her throughout, and I hated him almost from the point of his introduction. 

The singular reason that he’s even attracted to her at all is because 
she is the antithesis of his late wife.
(show spoiler)
 So I’m sorry to all the Maxim shippers, but I can find nothing redeeming or romantic about an older man who so casually mistreats his innocent young wife. 

Not Cory might be naïve, but she’s not an utter fool. Her introspectiveness makes her a keen observer, and even in their early days together, she realizes that something isn’t right between her and Maxim. She senses it should be different, has premonitions of what’s to come. After their honeymoon, they head home, to Manderley where all becomes clear. 

Rebecca. Rebecca. Rebecca. Rebecca. REBECCA!

The dead wife. She’s there with them, always. Both the servants of the household, and the surrounding villagers preferred her and her outgoing nature, her wild parties, the way she could draw one out of themselves and make them feel as though they were a trusted friend, to Not Cory and her shy, withdrawn nature. It doesn’t help matters that she was tall, gorgeous, refined, and well bred, and that almost everyone Not Cory meets feels the need to remind her of this. 

She feels Rebecca hanging over her marriage like a ghoul, dogging her steps throughout her new home, distracting and beguiling her husband from beyond the grave. So it’s understandable that after a few short weeks at Manderley, Not Cory begins to further withdraw from her surroundings, turn more introspective, begin to question everything about her marriage and the man she’s attached herself to. 

At this point, the book turns into a slow motion train wreck. You see how easily she’s manipulated by the aging Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca’s old maid, by her husband, by the others around her, and you just want to shake her out of it. Instead of character progression, you get regression, and watching it all unfold is frustrating to say the least. I kept waiting for her to grow a spine, for her to start questioning things, to stand up for herself. Sadly, this never happens. 

And all the while, there’s Maxim, patting her head like a dog if she pleases him, frowning and becoming withdrawn if she doesn’t. I saw too many signs of a perfect victim within his wife, and it greatly disturbed me. She became constantly aware of his moods, adjusted her own behaviors to compensate for them, steered conversations if she worried that they might be heading down roads that might upset him. 

Maxim, Maxim, Maxim, Maxim, MAXIM! 

Less than half of the way through, I had every single plot twist unraveled. It made for a rather anticlimactic finish, and I found myself skimming through large sections of Not Cory’s infuriatingly weak inner monologue. 

The biggest “revelation” of them all almost caused me to rage quit, but I had come too far. 
Maxim reveals that his first wife didn’t drown. He killed her. And instead of being horrified, Not Cory is insanely happy. Because he never loved her. FUCKING WHAT?!
(show spoiler)
 Then there was another reveal, which I didn’t buy at all because of all the things I’ve previously discussed in regards to Maxim. 
He tells Not Cory he loves her. It’s almost laughable. He treated her as if she were an errant child throughout the entire book. He even called her a child repeatedly, and condescended to her about it. Ugh. He did not once until that point show her more than a passing kindness and nothing in his manner ever, EVER spoke of love or any strong emotion at all.
(show spoiler)


In closing, I don’t get the hype. I don’t think that this is remarkable or groundbreaking, and I don’t even think it should be classified as a romance. I think many of the themes are merely reused and reworked from earlier gothic novels, primarily Jane Eyre. In fact, this has such a remarkable amount of similarities to it, that I’ll be reading it next, and I plan on coming back and adding a section about my findings. 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 362 out of 362 pages.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

Reading progress update: I've read 160 out of 362 pages.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

THAT'S IT

 

*puts on steel-toed boots*

*kicks Mrs. Danvers in the tinkle taco*

Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 362 pages.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

Holy shit. This is glorious. As in, if it continues the way it's been going, it will end up in my top five favorite books of all timeEASILY.

Also, Maxim:
 

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 362 pages.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again."

Even better the second time around

House of Corruption - Erik Tavares

I read this book in hopes that it would be terrifying because I needed a reset in between those that I normally read. I came across it by accident, read the book blurb, and hoped it would fry the fluff from my synapses and give me the reset I so desperately needed. I figured it would be a quick, easy read with some grammatical errors and story-flow issues because it’s an independent pub. 

The frigging thing is over 300 pages long and has fewer typos than books that come from major publishing houses. The story wasn’t full of holes or awkward perspective shifts like I had anticipated. It flowed smoothly and for such a lengthy book, it never seemed to drag. In fact, at times I hoped it would never end. It was…hypnotizing. Mesmerizing. 

ERIK TAVARES, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN??? 

Welcome to my world, my new friend. If we ever meet in person don’t sign anything I give you, especially if I bring my own pen for you to use. Because while I’m smiling and rambling on and on about how much I enjoy your writing, I’ll be harboring ulterior motives of harvesting your DNA from the skin tags you leave on my pen so that I can clone you fifty times, raise evil genius minions of you and send them forth when they reach maturity to shift the balance of the paranormal literary world. 



Okay, I suppose I should stop fangirling and actually review the book now. And while I’m tempted to do so with gifs, memes and jpegs full of happy dances, I’ll try to restrain myself. 

*deep breath*

Gone are the glittery vegetarian vampires with teenage angst and a propensity for hipster jeans and emo eyes. Gone are the shape shifters that have complete control over the animal side of themselves and hunt down deer to sake their bloodlust. Tavares rolls back the years to expose the ugly origins of myth and legend. 

In House of Corruption, the monsters are back. And they want to rip off your head and walk around in your skin for a little while.

This book is Bram Stoker meets Anne Rice meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There are elements of those authors within it but they’re mere hints, almost odes to what’s come before. You see Bram in the Van Helsing-esque Savoy, Anne in the beautiful, macabre, almost lyrical quality of the writing and Sir Arthur in the pacing of the mystery. 

I’ve never come across an author that can make me see the stark beauty in every day acts like Tavares does. This book is so well written it’s almost distracting. Take the simple task of walking down a street. 

Most authors say:
“I walked down the street.” 

Tavares says:
“Colorful types still haunted the midnight streets of Chalmette: well-dressed patrons returning from ‘Orleans and its more dignified delights; clusters of sailors looking for another groggery or a woman to rent; street musicians of various skill and diverse color; fading conversations in Creole and English and Spanish. Gaslights burned in globes of moist, foggy air and pedestrians wiped at their slippery faces. Rain was coming.” 

He makes you feel the moisture pressing against your skin, seethe dirt caked faces of street people, smell the decay and the refuse seeping from the alleyways and hear the drunken laughter chorusing from the surrounding taverns. 

The first third of the book takes place against the back drop of the Spanish moss draped live oaks of New Orleans. It’s there that you’re introduced to the book’s narrators and supporting cast. The story is told primarily through five perspectives. That of a renegade priest, a werewolf, a kidnap victim, a murderer and a beautiful young woman. Unlike some books with multiple characters, you know who each person is. You know what they look like, their fears and their demons. You’re witness to the priest’s insecurity, the kidnap victim’s fear, the beautiful woman’s regret, the werewolf’s arrogance and the murderer’s reluctance, and you love them despite their pitfalls. 

It’s also here that you realize that not only is this book beautifully written, but that it was painstakingly researched. I felt like I’d been plucked from my couch and dropped into the late nineteenth century. Everything to me felt period accurate, and though it was the obvious things that drew me in; the clothes, the news sheets, the dirt, the poverty and the superstition, it was the smaller details that really impressed me, the subtle way Tavares slipped in the intimate facts and histories of the places his characters passed through. 

I encourage people to enjoy the relative “peace” of this part of the book because it quickly begins to descend into chaos as each of the narrator’s lives unravel in front of their eyes and the mystery begins in earnest. 

From Nawlins you follow the cast to Boston, New York, Liverpool and Marseilles, where things go from bad to worse as the very creature they chase confronts them, taunts them and manipulates the authorities there into blaming them for its crimes, adding insult to injury.

Their final destination is the dense jungle of British occupied Borneo, where the sounds of the drums of the headhunters, the buzz of malaria laden mosquitoes and the rumbling of distant thunder leap off the pages. It’s here that the buildup of the story gains momentum and begins to crest. 

During the last fifty pages of the book my eyes were so wide they nearly fell out of my head. There’s a dangerous canoe trip down a jungle river, a frantic race through abandoned villages and ruined monastaries, and then finally, the vines clear and a looming manor rises from the forest. 

This is where you meet the real monsters. I won’t say much other than they are neck-rufflingly evil. They are sick, desperate, twisted, sad and all together too human for comfort. 

When the book reached its climax, the words pouring out of my mouth didn’t even make sense anymore. 

HOLYFUCKINGSHITWHATTHEFUCKSHITDAMNFUCKSHIT

I just…I can’t even…



READ THIS BOOK. NOW.

Reading progress update: I've read 260 out of 309 pages.

House of Corruption - Erik Tavares

"Below him lay bones, pile upon pile of rotten, decomposing remains. Countless skulls stared up in frozen grins, their eyes filled with slime, the water saturated with chalky dust. When he kicked to ascend, a shape detached from the pile - the rotten husk of a man, his fleshy throat wriggling.
Grant scrambled up, horrified, bubbles streaming. 
Something locked around his ankle."


THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDE TO NEVER GO SWIMMING AGAIN.

Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 309 pages.

House of Corruption - Erik Tavares

CREEPY JUNGLE IS CREEPY
"Beneath the floor came a snuffling, a scattering of movement in the muck, then a deep, loud, unearthly cry. It was followed by more cries at the river and others in the village proper, like wolves howling in the night..."

 

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 309 pages.

House of Corruption - Erik Tavares

"Rotten hands slid up her legs...fingers grabbed like spiders and pulled, tugged, until she fell into the nest of skeletal bodies. She kicked and screamed. Bony hands crawled into her mouth. Brittle fingers pressed against her eyelids, forced them open. In the midst of that squirming pile of dead she saw the woman's face, the same charcoal flesh and muscle stretched over blackened bone, eyes melted from their sockets, her long hair black like burnt glass and stinking of lye. "

 

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lp63n9j0381qdeq5f.gif

Reading progress update: I've read 110 out of 309 pages.

House of Corruption - Erik Tavares

"He fell to the ground, shrieking. His body writhed until the throaty noise became awful, a breathy, choking heave. He stiffened, tight, and with a sickening crack his head wrenched upwards from his shoulders. It tore away from his body, slithering, the head trailing its spine like a grotesque worm."

Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 309 pages.

House of Corruption - Erik Tavares

"Parish Prison leered over Orleans Street, ivy infesting its towering brick and plaster walls, crawling up and over the scrubby roof until the place seemed caught in some ghastly web. Sheets of rain washed down its neglected façade before draining into the gutter. It was an old place, a sad place, one few dared consider with their full attention, known more for its reputation than its reality. The weather only added to its grim appearance as if, once inside, there would be no leaving."

 

I'd apologize for spamming quotes, BUT I'M NOT SORRY FOR SPAMMING QUOTES.

Currently reading

Touched by an Alien
Gini Koch
Progress: 20/389 pages
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Wuthering Heights
Lucasta Miller, Pauline Nestor, Emily Brontë
Progress: 12/621 pages
Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
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Litchick's Favorites

The Count of Monte Cristo
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Darkfever
The Vampire Lestat
Dark Angels
Angelfall
Magic Bites
House of Corruption
The Dark Glory War
Firefly Hollow
Red Rising
Shredded
The Drowning Guard


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