Posts By: Rashika

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Disappointing: The Toll by Cherie Priest

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Disappointing: The Toll by Cherie Priest
The Toll
Cherie Priest
Genre: Adult, Gothic, Horror
Publication date: July 9th, 2019
by Tor Books

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From Cherie Priest, the author of The Family Plot and Maplecroft, comes The Toll, a tense, dark, and scary treat for modern fans of the traditionally strange and macabre.

State Road 177 runs along the Suwannee River, between Fargo, Georgia, and the Okefenokee Swamp. Drive that route from east to west, and you’ll cross six bridges. Take it from west to east, and you might find seven.

But you’d better hope not.


Titus and Davina Bell leave their hotel in Fargo for a second honeymoon canoeing the Okefenokee Swamp. But shortly before they reach their destination, they draw up to a halt at the edge of a rickety bridge with old stone pilings, with room for only one car . . .

When, much later, a tow-truck arrives, the driver finds Titus lying in the middle of the road, but Davina is nowhere to be found.
 
-A copy was provided by Tor Books for review-

I love southern gothic with a dash of horror and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Cherie Priest so when I came across The Toll, I was curious. I ended up being disappointed. Maybe this book never stood a chance because I read it in the midst of an extreme book hangover from finishing Spin the Dawn but here we are.

For one, there are too many different POVs for my liking. Sometimes many POVs work, especially when distinguished. They were not distinguished in this case so the transitions were always sudden and it took me a bit to figure out who I was following. Honestly, it wasn’t until I hit the 33% mark that I was actually able to differentiate the names and the voices of the characters. So for about 100 pages, I was basically lost and confused. 

The pacing was too slow for my tastes as well. The atmosphere is deliciously creeptastic but… there is literally nothing else going on. Titus’ wife goes missing and the town is sort of weird and there are weird things happening but only the first of those things is a plot point. There is an increasing tension propelling the plot forward but the book is fairly tame. I was not creeped out or concerned.

I also did not connect to any of the characters. Maybe except the old ladies who hate everybody because that’s a big mood. I don’t know. 336 pages is a lot to read when you don’t feel connected to anyone or that invested in the plot or really in anything at all. 

So why did I keep reading? Maybe I just have issues and don’t like DNFing but honestly, the one good thing I can say for this book is that Cherie Priest is undoubtedly a terrific writer. This seems to contradict all of my issues with the book but also, I don’t know what else to say. Something kept me just invested enough to keep turning the pages and I think that for all these book’s faults, Priest is good at her craft.

The Toll is not the worst book I’ve read this year (although I cannot actually think what the worst book I’ve read is.) I think it just needed a lot more work to keep me invested. I think characters needed to be developed, voices distinguished and the plot needed to become more exciting. People who like slower books with that hint of horror sort of lurking in the background will genuinely enjoy this book. Simply put, I was the wrong reader for The Toll and all my love for southern gothic books cannot make up for that.

2 Stars
2 Hot Espressos

Revived My Love for Fantasy: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Revived My Love for Fantasy: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Posted by on 07/23/2019 • 1 Comment

Spin the Dawn is the book I didn’t know I needed and I want to cry from how happy I am that I read it and that it could revolutionize my life. As a baby blogger, I rarely read contemporary. I exclusive read fantasy. These past few years though, fantasy has not really been holding my attention and I find myself avoiding it for the most part except for a few books here and there. Before Spin the Dawn, the last high fantasy I read was Wicked Saints back in April. I rated in 4 stars at the time but in retrospect it was not a 4 star read given that for half the book, my attention wandered. For the first time in literal years, I don’t want to read…

So Much Food and Softness: Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune by Roselle Lim

So Much Food and Softness: Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune by Roselle Lim

Posted by on 07/19/2019 • 0 Comments

Here is the thing about Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune, it is sweet with a dash of magic and an incredible amount of food porn. For those reasons, I was immediately drawn in and enjoyed the book. But, the writing is not quite there so even though the story itself is wonderful, the way it is written and told isn’t? 

First things first, this book is not a romance for those romance readers eyeing this book. It is a story about love but not necessarily romantic love. 

Natalie Tan comes home for the first time in years after her mother passes away. They parted on bad terms and Natalie never got to bridge the gap that emerged between the two. A letter her ma-ma left behind for her imparts her…

Cute But The Science is Lacking: Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Cute But The Science is Lacking: Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Posted by on 07/15/2019 • 1 Comment

While I never got the chance to read Alienated, I have read Lander’s romance novels so when I heard about Blastaway, I was immediately onboard. I expected something akin to Alienated (even though I hadn’t read it) and in my excitement, missed that Blastaway wasn’t YA. It is middle grade. I read middle grade so that didn’t really turn me off but this book wouldn’t really hit the mark for adult middle grade readers the way it would for middle grade middle grade readers – aka the intended demographic of the book.

Blastaway is incredibly cute and I love that it uses its sci-fic setting to draw attention to very real world issues in an accessible manner to younger readers. My biggest issue – keeping in mind that I was…

Heartbreaking, Swoony & Funny: Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

Heartbreaking, Swoony & Funny: Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

Posted by on 07/10/2019 • 0 Comments

Remember how back in 2012 the only book anyone ever talked about was The Fault in Our Stars? I wish Symptoms of a Heartbreak was around back then because it is infinitely better and hits a lot of the same emotional notes that TFIOS hit for many people. While this book is pitched as a medical romcom, I’d actually describe it as less of a romcom and more of a family comedy with a smidgen of romance and a lot of growth and development. 

Saira is Girl Genius and the youngest doctor ever. But all that genius cannot prepare for her first year as an intern at the place where it all started – when she diagnosed her best friend with cancer at the age of 6. It also cannot…

A Soft, Low-Stress Book: Some Like it Scandalous by Maya Rodale

A Soft, Low-Stress Book: Some Like it Scandalous by Maya Rodale

Posted by on 07/05/2019 • 0 Comments

I will fully admit to not reading book 1 in this series but I have read Maya Rodale before and when I saw that Some Like it Scandalous was hate to love, I was sold. I did go in expecting good romantic tension but I was a little surprised by how much I was taken in by this book. Rodale must have done a lot of research to help immerse us within the gilded age. 

I wouldn’t categorize it as a true love to hate because their dislike is based on misunderstandings and apologies are made quite early on but… their relationship is still amazing. It is founded on their mutual agreement that they do not want to get married, then they become business partners and finally something more. They…

Potentially the best Pride and Prejudice Adaptation: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Potentially the best Pride and Prejudice Adaptation: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted by on 07/02/2019 • 8 Comments

I’ve been going through a reading slump lately and starting a book takes a lot more effort than I would like. When, I picked up Ayesha a couple days ago, I was really sad I couldn’t get into it so I put it down and continued binging Brooklyn Nine Nine. Because I had it for review though, I decided to pick it up again  and push through. I ended up going to bed at 5:30 AM because I legitimately did not want to put Ayesha at Last down.

I first read P&P in 10th grade and watched the BBC adaptation alongside reading it. I thought the Colin Firth adaptation was the peak of P&P adaptations. Reading Ayesha at Last has made me completely reevaluate that opinion. This thoughtful, creative retelling…

Best of Dogs and Humans: The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Best of Dogs and Humans: The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by on 06/19/2019 • 0 Comments

I truly feel blessed anytime I finish a book by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Over the past year, she has quickly shot up to one of my favorite authors. Her talent for writing some of the best relationships to grace YA draws me in and I cannot help but finish any book I read by her with my mouth hanging open and desperate for a sequel. If flawed characters, found family, trauma handled well, the best of dogs and a bit of a mystery are your thing, The Lovely and the Lost is the book for you.

Kira does not trust many people except for her family. It took years after Cady rescued her for Kira to learn how to trust again and now she is following in Cady’s footsteps…