April Book Reviews

Last month I said I was going to split this post and share half the middle of the month and half the end of the month. Naturally, things didn’t work out as planned. 🙂

Since I only read five books this month, I thought I’d share the entire post today. There were two that were rough for me—you’ll be able to tell when you hit the reviews—and for the first time in my life I gave a book a 2.5 rating on Goodreads (although I didn’t share it on Amazon). This was my April collection. As always, because the post in lengthy, click the Amazon link to read the blurbs or learn more about each book.

The Dinner
By Herman Koch

This book has been on my radar for a long time and I finally decided I needed to satisfy my curiosity. This was made into a movie in 2017 (no, I haven’t seen it, but I’m considering). The story is kind of like a train wreck. A distasteful mess, but hard to ignore.

Set in the Netherlands, the basic premise involves two well-to-do couples, (brothers and their wives) who get together for dinner at an exclusive restaurant.

The book cleverly spans the course of the dinner—appetizer, entrée, dessert. A few hours in which an ugly crime is prodded and examined like a specimen in a petri dish. Both couples have fifteen-year-old boys who have been involved in a heinous act (there is nothing remotely sexual for those of you who, like me, shy away from such ugliness).

The reader gets to know each character up close and personal, with insight into previous history and the actions of the boys. This is one of those books where I didn’t find redeeming value in any of the characters though the women are surprisingly worse than the men. These are not witchy, stuck up b*tches. They come across as genuine, protective of those they love and utterly self-sacrificing while being loathsome. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I disliked every character.

That aside, this is a well written, disturbing story that delves into the complex nuances of human nature. Don’t expect to like any of the characters, but this is definitely one for discussion in book clubs and with other readers. I waffled between 3 and 4 stars, so I’m going with 3.5.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction > Psychological Fiction


Bigfoot: The Non-Fiction, Factual arguments in favor of the existence of Sasquatch
By Joachim Dale

As someone who has long been fascinated by cryptozoology, I was intrigued by this work which addresses arguments in favor of the existence of Bigfoot. The author clearly did his research, drawing on centuries-old sightings, testimonials, physical evidence, and most interesting for me–the famed Patterson-Gimlin film, which is examined in detail.

Throughout, facts are presented in a concise and understandable manner and the book is ordered in such a way that by the time you reach the final chapter (Conclusions) the reader has been presented with a strong argument for the existence of these ape-like creatures that have long eluded man. The writing is polished and case arguments presented vividly. Whether you are a believer in Sasquatch or someone fascinated by the legend, you will find Mr. Dale’s work compelling. This is a short novella-length quick read.

Amazon Link
Genre:  Biological Science of Apes and Monkeys > Biological Science of Wildlife


Book cover for Silent Mayhem by Sue ColettaSilent Mayhem: The Mayhem Series #3
By Sue Coletta

In the third and latest book in the Mayhem series, author Sue Coletta pushes the action to a fever pitch. Someone is leaving a bloody trail of murder behind by beheading victims and leaving cryptic clues. Former cat burglar and legit hacker, Shawnee Daniels, who works for the police department, follows the clues while being caught up in her own twisted web of problems. Notorious serial killer “Mr. Mayhem” has been leaving her messages, delivered by his ominous murder of crows, or posted a secret website.

All three books in this series are exceptional but this one is elevated to a new level of intrigue by the relationship Coletta weaves between Mayhem and Shawnee, threads that hint of joint family history. Brilliant! Mayhem is cultured, precise, and meticulous. Shawnee is a whirlwind of in-your-face action, tough as nails on the outside, with a vulnerable underbelly. The contrast makes for mesmerizing encounters with an odd give-and-take between these two dynamic personalities.

As someone who has read a great deal of books on Native American history and folklore, I found those tie-ins especially riveting. Skinwalkers, serial killers, vendettas—it’s all here. Mayhem’s relationship with his wife is tenderly portrayed. Crows, Poe, Edgar and Allan are given multiple spotlights to shine, and the ending leaves a deadly open thread for the next book in this fantastic series.

Amazon Link
Genre:  Women Sleuths > Suspense


Book cover for Silent Mayhem by Sue ColettaThey All Fall Down
By Rachel Howzell Hall

If I have an all-time favorite story trope it has to be an eclectic cast of characters in a remote location with individuals being picked off one by one. I think it goes back to my childhood when I was in love with the game Clue and when I first saw Agatha Christie’s book And Then There Were None made into the movie Ten Little Indians.  So naturally when I saw the premise for They All Fall Down—mansion in a Mexican paradise where a group of strangers gather only to be picked off one by one—I couldn’t wait to boot up my Kindle and dive in.

Sadly, I almost DNF’d this book. At the 40ish mark I had met all of the characters, but nothing was happening (yawn). Then finally around 46% the book took off with a bang. I was riveted and had high hopes—until it quickly nosedived again. One of the most interesting characters is killed too early, I knew the killer’s identity from the first death, and guessed the reveal at the end. What I will say for the positive is that the author had a great descriptive voice and her MC was unique. There is some highly entertaining banter between several of the characters and the book reads easily. I did stick it out to the end, but none of the characters have any redeeming qualities which made it rough to finish. Loved the premise but didn’t care for the outcome. 2.5 stars rounded to 3 for Goodreads.

Amazon Link
Genre: Thriller and Suspense 


Book cover for The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnThe Body in the Wetlands
By Judi Lynn

In book two of the Jazzi Zanders murder mysteries, home remodelers Jazzi, her hunky boyfriend, Ansel, and her cousin Jerrod are once again in this thick of rehabbing property and getting caught up in murder. Jazzi gets to know neighbor, Leo, during his regular walks with his dog Cocoa. When Leo disappears and two bodies are discovered in shallow graves behind the neighborhood subdivision, Jazzi once again becomes embroiled in unmasking the killer. On the personal front, her relationship with Ansel is put to the test when he returns home for a brief time to help his dysfunctional family with property repairs. A young college student takes an interest in Jazzi. Friendly and outgoing, his charm may just be the mask for a killer, but he’s only one of numerous suspects.

The author treats us to an eclectic cast of characters, then weaves a bubble of suspicion around each. Jazzi’s large family, plus her detective friend, Gaff, are all back again, as is Ansel’s dog, George the pug. You’ve got to love these people, who feel like friends. While this is a cozy mystery there is still plenty of guessing, and intricate plotting that leads to unmasking the killer. The writing is polished and breezy, the mystery elements set up like neat dominoes that all fall into place at the end. Another great entry in an enjoyable series!

Amazon Link
Genre: Cozy Mystery > Amateur sleuths


I hope you’ve discovered something among these titles that may interest you. If you came across a great novel during your recent reading, be sure to share in the comments. In addition to writing, I love chatting books. I just wish I had more hours to devote to my gargantuan TBR!

49 thoughts on “April Book Reviews

  1. You read a wide variety, Mae. I also have trouble getting into a book when none of the characters have any redeeming qualities – makes it hard to connect. When you mentioned all-time favorite story trope, the classic haunted house tale jumped to mind for me, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I admit I like the haunted house trope, too. Even better, put a group of strangers into a haunted house and pick them off one by one, and it would be the best of both worlds, LOL.

      Lately, I’ve come across a lot of books with reprehensible characters. I can deal with that, but when they’re all despicable I feel cheated. I want to cheer for at least one person!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All of the books sound interesting, but Coletta’s novel and the Bigfoot book sound particularly good. I like crypto-research, too. Speaking of research, for a WIP that takes place partly in the 1800s, I just finished Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I thought it’d be dry and blech, but it was engaging, heart breaking at times, thrilling at other times. It was a short, fabulous book.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m a huge Clue fan, too. Sorry to hear that book wasn’t as expected.

    I read The Body in the Wetlands and Silent Mayhem and agree—both were great reads. Looking forward to your next review post.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I always enjoy your reviews–what you love about a book and what doesn’t work for you. Characters make a huge difference. It’s hard to stay involved when I don’t care about any of them…or wish them the worst:) Thanks for including The Body in the Wetlands. And I think 6 books in one month is astounding!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I forgot to post the 6th review, LOL.

      The Body in the Wetlands was a great read with characters I love. It was so wonderful to have that round out my month, after reading a book with characters I didn’t care about. To me, that is the bonding element in a novel.

      And I’m delighted you enjoy reading my reviews!

      Like

    • Jacquie, you’ll enjoy Sue’s novel. It’s excellent.
      And I am mind-boggled that someone actually spent money to take the case of protecting Bigfoot to court. Just think of the precedent that could have been set if the court hadn’t ruled as they did. I love my beasties, but people need to use their heads, too!
      Thanks for sharing that post with me!

      Liked by 1 person

    • There are some excellent supernatural romances out there. I’m glad you found one you really enjoyed, Robbie. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews!

      Like

  5. Great reviews, Mae:) I have the first Mayhem book in my Kindle along with the first Jazzi book, too. I added the Bigfoot book. It sounds like a book I’d enjoy. Thanks for recommending Where the Crawdads Sing. I loved it! I didn’t review it but I gave it a rating.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So glad you enjoyed Crawdads. I thought that was a fabulous read. And I know you’ll enjoy Sue’s Mayhem book and Judi’s Jazzi mystery. Both are highly entertaining and very diverse. I think it’s fun to read across genres.

      Like

  6. You were busy again. I have Sue’s book on my list for after I wrap up my WIPs. Yours is on there too. Making notes here: Haunted house tale, pick them off one by one, make sure at least one likable character makes it to the end. For insurance, set it in the 1800s. Got it. Maybe a Jersey Devil on the pine barrens during the 1800s to hit that cryptid element.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kudos to you, Mae, for sticking out the poorly written book to the end and leaving a review. If a book doesn’t get me within the first three chapters, or it is riddled with errors, I put it down. My life is too short to read bad books. 🙂 I appreciate your honest reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I normally do what you do, Jan, but I kept hoping the book would improve. I was ready to DNF it around the 40% mark and then it got REALLY GOOD around 46%. Unfortunately, that uptick didn’t carry through to the end.
      I’m glad you enjoy the reviews!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice reviews, Mae. Bummer about the book that reminded you of Clue. One of my favorite games as well. Guess you probably knew that. I read a wide variety of books, and I see you do too. I try to finish every book that I start, and to date can only think of two that I haven’t finished. And let me tell you, some of them were not worth the paper they were written on. But it is difficult to finish a book when it falls far from expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you love Clue! 🙂

      I can’t finish a book these days unless it grabs me. I give it a few chapters and then move onto something else. I think I stayed with They All Fall Down because I had such high hopes for it based on the setting and trope. Sadly, it left me disappointed.

      Like

  9. Thanks so much for sharing these insightful reviews, Mae. Even here in Australia the legend of Sasquatch is keenly shared. This book has now hit my Must Read list. Sue Coletta’s Mayhem series sounds wonderful. I look forward to meeting these characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good selection of books–and eclectic. There was a real Big Foot as recently as 100,000 years ago–Gigantopithecus. A Primate, walked upright (well depending upon who you talk to) and smart. He actually stars in my trilogy, Crossroads. I will have to see what the experts say about Big Foot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, great information about Gigantopithecus. I think I remember this from a TV show I saw way back in the 1980s (yes, odd things tend to stick in my head). I’m going to have to check out Crossroads!

      Like

  11. I really need to catch up on Sue’s books. I need to go back and see what all I’ve read so far. She’s a great writer. So many books, so little time!

    I read The Body in the Attic, so I need to go get The Body in the Wetlands soon. I really enjoyed the first one, and this one sounds intriguing! (I need to catch up on Judi’s Mill Pond books, too.)

    Mae, you always steer me to some really good authors, so I love to see what you’re reading. And it helps remind me that I need to read more in some of the series (I get sidetracked).

    Liked by 1 person

    • So wonderful to have you drop by, Lauralynn. And I am thrilled that you’ve found good reads through recommendations. Sue’s books and Judi’s are both awesome (so different too, which is fun). I love to read, and love sharing the books I love, LOL. Hope all is well with you!

      Like

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