Genre: Adult


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

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

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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…

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

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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…

Thoughtful and Adorable: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

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Posted by on 06/12/2019 • 0 Comments

I am still recovering from this book as I write this review so excuse the rambling but oh my god??? Why did this book want to HURT ME LIKE THAT??? I am genuinely feeling a little nauseous lol.

The nausea has nothing to do with how the book was, just about certain events I won’t dive into. Rest assured, if you do read this book and have some serious feelings afterwards, please talk to me so we can all cry together. A HAPPY CRYING CIRCLE.

If you are not a fan of any kind of angst, you should probably skip this book because there is a lot of it. Sometimes it felt unavoidable, other times it was frustrating but honestly it wasn’t actually an issue for me. I…

Relevant, Funny and Swoony: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

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Posted by on 04/30/2019 • 1 Comment

Idk how its possible but each book in this series has been as good as or better than the previous one and I am just truly in awe of Cole’s talent. I’ve been reading romance for a while now and I truly feel that Cole is changing the landscape of romance literature. Not only is A Prince on Paper unbelievably swoony and adorable, it also takes on really big and relevant things. It isn’t afraid to dissect racism and call out colonialism, we see fake news and propaganda make an appearance and we also see our MC deal with emotional and mental abuse from a parent.

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Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

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Posted by on 04/17/2019 • 4 Comments

This one messes with your head, guys! I love psychological thrillers, and this had me totally creeped out from very early on. It also had me puzzled with the mystery of the fairy-tale-like storyline. With each new chapter we’re given a new layer of this mystery that makes absolutely no logical sense, but can’t deny that it’s all happening. I kept wondering if this was just a big mind-game with a huge twist that would turn everything on its head. Or if I was just completely overlooking a small detail that would make everything clear. I loved it!

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The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

Posted by on 03/26/2019 • 0 Comments

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Another Worthy Addition to the Series: Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

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Posted by on 02/26/2019 • 0 Comments

I have been reading Kelley Armstrong’s books for over half a decade now so it’s safe to say I am a fan. From her YA to her adult, she never fails to deliver a series of characters I find myself immediately invested in and plots I am eager to watch unfold. Watcher in the Woods is the fourth book in a series and usually, by the fourth book of a series, my interest starts to wane but a fourth book in the hands of Kelley Armstrong??? Watcher in the Woods proves that it can be a very powerful thing.

If you haven’t read this series and are a fan of well-written mystery novels that don’t involve annoying dude detectives, you should probably get on it. If you’re already a…