Posted in Book review

Reviews: The Toll by Cherie Priest & How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway — I really did try to like them…

With the amount of books I want to read these days, I don’t have time to read books that I’m not enjoying. My biggest problem is that I need to feel involved with the characters — somehow connect with them. So, while I might be able to sit through a book without connecting with the characters, I usually just don’t want to — and that’s the crux of the two books I’ll be reviewing a bit more in-depth below. They aren’t horrible books, I totally could get through them if I had to or had nothing else to read, but knowing I have other things to read, I just don’t want to.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed ARCs of these books.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

The Toll
 The Toll
Author: Cherie Priest

Genre/Themes: Thriller/Horror, Fantasy
Recommended Age: Adult
Series: No
Publication Date: July 9th 2019  (336 pages)

Rating: ⭐⭐.5


Synopsis from Goodreads: 

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. 


DNF @ 15%

Here’s the thing. I think I have to be in the mood for this type of Southern Gothic horror. I prefer reading it in Fall when there is a chill in the air and the wind is gusty and eery. So, the first time I put the book down I figured it was because I hadn’t expected needing a certain atmosphere to enjoy it — my bad.

But, then I went into it again and was prepared for a more languid ride. I turned the A/C up and curled up on the couch for the subtle build up of tension. This didn’t work. And while I still may partly blame myself (which is why I’m rounding up on Goodreads to 3 stars), some of it is the book not working for me.

Nowhere in the synopsis does it mention that this book doesn’t just focus on the newly wed couple. In fact, the first chapter is about a nearby family unit and seems to bring focus onto the teenage boy. This would be fine, I’d get over it, but the differences between the two POVs are jarring to me. I also found the one about the teen to be plain boring. There is a lot of atmospheric-writing here, so perhaps if that was my jam I’d be more into it.
I can’t say I truly enjoyed the newly-wed chapters either. In fact, the couple annoyed the heck out of me. Instead of being concerned about what was happening to them, I kept wondering why they were even together.

I’m a reader who 9 times out of 10 needs to like the characters I’m reading about, or find at least one aspect about them interesting. Not liking these characters just added to how slow this book felt.

If you like cryptic, slower-paced, and the nagging feeling that something isn’t right in your books then perhaps you should give this one a try — you might like it more than I.

How to Hack a Heartbreak

Title: How to Hack a Heartbreak
Author: Kristin Rockaway

Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Romance
Recommended Age: New Adult
Series: No
Publication Date: July 30th 2019  (352 pages)

Rating: ⭐⭐


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

DNF @ 34%

I heard great things about this one and I really wanted to like it. While I’ve never used Dating sites or apps, I have heard many horror stories, so the concept of JerkAlert was appealing. This one sounded funny, empowering, and awesome. Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me. 

I totally could have forced myself through this one, but I was…bored. I couldn’t connect to the characters at all. While I empathize with them and wanted to dig in, something about the writing style forced me to feel disconnected. Her relationship with Alex is also not memorable. In fact, while Alex seems like a good guy, it seems like the only reasons she likes him is because he is attractive and he isn’t a dick. The whole relationship felt weak. Which, the relationship not being the main focus would totally be fine, if this book wasn’t set up to make me think the romance would be a big issue. I kept flipping back in forth between not being sure if it would take priority or if the app would or even if being told how much crap women have to put up with would be the focus of the book. 

Truly, I think the biggest issue here is that the writing felt more like someone’s memories as they recounted what happened. The scenes felt surface level to me instead of diving deeper into feelings, situations, and characters. 

Yet, it isn’t a bad book. I really could have forced myself through this one. I think people who prefer contemporaries or what some of my professors called “women’s fiction” over romances, would like this one. 

One thought on “Reviews: The Toll by Cherie Priest & How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway — I really did try to like them…

  1. I have an eARC of The Toll that I read the first chapter of for this month’s Try a Chapter Challenge, and I had really mixed feelings on the writing style. I honestly think it’s the kind of book I need to go into prepared to allow myself to DNF if the writing doesn’t catch me, if that makes sense. :/


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