April Book Reviews

Hey, everyone! We’re wrapping up another month, so it’s time for my monthly book review post. My reading slowed some this month because I’ve been busy working on my WIP (more about that later), but I still finished several books. I had previously read other books by Anita Dickason and Robbie Cheadle, but the reads were first-time reads for the other authors.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Nightingale follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabel, who lived in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The book opens in 1995 with one of the sisters (we don’t know which one until the end) reflecting back on those years.

Their mother is dead and their father, who fought in the Great War, is a broken man who doesn’t know how to love them. Both women end up risking their lives to save others—Isabel helps downed allied fighters escape and Vianne helps in hiding Jewish children whose parents have been sent to POW camps.

A few things kept me from giving this five stars. There are several inconsistencies and a few unbelievable events such as Isabel leaving the house in “knee-deep snow,” then finding and stealing a bicycle. She rushes through the streets to a place where she hides it (and isn’t caught). Hello? Riding a bike in knee-deep snow? Any Nazi soldier could have easily followed the tracks.

I thought the author overused similes. I’m of the opinion that a few are okay but show me something, don’t tell me. Also, the book was a little too long for my reading taste, but overall the positives outweighed the negatives for me. Fiction or non-fiction, we need books that tell us the truth about history.

There is a quote in the book that sums it up, “You girls will be part of the generation that goes on, that remembers.” Sadly, many today have forgotten or they want to erase the dark times because it doesn’t fit their agenda.

Overall, I give this 3.5 stars rounded up to four for review purposes.

All He Has Left by Chad Zunker

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This was a quick read with a good premise. The story started well, but then sort of went off the rails. Too many unbelievable events. A former high school football coach, Jake Slater, is suspected of murder, Not just one, but two, and then a third.

He not only evades the local police, but the FBI, and a hired assassin. And often in broad daylight. There’s one scene in which Jake is fleeing the assassin. He escapes by hopping on a freight train. And the train has a caboose! Really? Cabooses haven’t been used since the 1980s. The author is only about forty years behind times on that one.

The solution was predictable and the ending “meh.’ I’ll give it a “generous” three stars. At least I got this one free.

My Father’s House by Patrick Dorn

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Short and easy to read – only thirteen pages and that includes the author’s note and copyright. I feel this could have been expanded, but I guess a longer story wouldn’t have fit the author’s purpose. An okay read, but short, and I felt something was lacking in the ending.

Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert by Erica Elliott

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I don’t read a lot of memoirs and non-fiction but as I’m interested in learning more about Native Americans, in particular the Diné, or Navajo, I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did.

Erica Elliott’s story begins in 1971 when she was a young teacher on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. After the first week, she was so discouraged she wanted to give up. Her students wouldn’t communicate with her and the differences in cultures made certain situations awkward.

After listening to her father’s wise words, “Give it three months,” and with the help of a Navajo teacher assistant, Erica began to learn the language and customs. Her students warmed to her, so much that they began inviting her into their homes. There she learned more about their customs, such as how to make traditional fry bread and weave traditional rugs.

“The People” embraced her and eventually, she was able to participate in some of their ceremonies. During this time, she witnessed miraculous healings, including the healing of a tumor on her neck after elders prayed for her. Erica also spent one summer living and working with a Navajo family herding their sheep where she continued to embrace their simple lifestyle.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I feel I have a much better understanding of the Diné (as they call themselves) from a non-native perspective. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about the Navajo people.

Murder’s Legacy by Anita Dickason

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Murders Legacy is the second book of Anita Dickason’s Tori Winters Mystery series. I thought the first book was good. The second one was even better.

Tori Winters has settled into her new life in Granbury, Texas. She has plans to renovate the historic mansion she inherited from her grandmother and turn it into a bed and breakfast. Tori’s great-grandfather, who built the mansion, was a notorious gangster who also held private gambling parties in the house. In addition to the house, there is also a tunnel leading from it to the outside, possibly to allow anyone attending the illegal gambling sessions to escape.

When part of the tunnel caves in during a construction project, Tori and the contractor discover a skeleton with a gunshot wound to the head. It’s estimated to have been buried for around eighty years.

They notify the police and soon reporters are on the scene. The following day, a city inspector pulls her construction permit until it can be determined if the property is safe. Things go from bad to worse when a tabloid publishes a story stating the house is unsafe and should be demolished. The city attorney announces he plans to conduct an inspection of the property with the intent to condemn it.

In the meantime, Tori is set on discovering the skeleton’s identity and who was responsible for his murder. Her inquires lead to several mysterious events—the former housekeeper was attacked in her home after Tori makes plans to visit her and inquire about the skeleton. One construction worker is involved in a hit-and-run accident, and another’s house was set on fire.

Who is behind all this and why? It’s obvious someone with a lot of clout is pushing for the demolition of the home.

Dickason has a knack for keeping the reader guessing until the end. Her characters—especially Tori—are well-developed. I enjoyed the small-town setting as well. I hope there will be more books in this series, and the last line of the book hints there will be.

Lion Scream by Robbie Cheadle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lion Scream is a book of syllabic poetry about South African wildlife. Robbie Cheadle’s passion for preserving not only endangered species but also the environment and concern about climate change. The book contains not only poems but information about each breed of animal and its status on the endangered list.

Cheadle also has photos and links to videos she has taken during her various visits to game preserves. I came away more educated about the plight of these animals. I especially liked the section on lions but enjoyed them all.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys poems and wishes to learn more about South Africa’s amazing animals.

That’s it for this month! I’ll be back at the end of May with more reviews. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit The Well Read Fish for reviews of Christian Fiction books.

30 thoughts on “April Book Reviews

  1. A good month of reading, Joan. I was most interested in “Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert” since it’s a topic that I’ve been interested in for decades. I did like My Father’s House, but yes, it’s short, more an essay than a story. And I thought your review of Robbie’s “Lion Scream” was spot on. I also came away knowing a lot more about African wildlife and the dangers they face. Thanks for the reviews and congrats to all the authors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved “Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.” One of my top reads so far this year. “Lions Scream” was both entertaining and educational. I liked “My Father’s House” just wanted a little more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You had quite a mixed bag this time. The Erica Elliott memoir sounds like something I would enjoy (and learn a lot from )!

    I appreciated Lion Scream as well and can recommend it to others as an important book to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your honest reviews, Joan. Out of these, I’ve only read Anita Dickson’s book, and I loved it, especially the strong friendships she’s formed. I wanted to be in that friendship circle. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read Robbie’s Lion Scream and came away entertained and educated. It such a unique combination which postively oozes South Africa.

    I’ve heard good things about Murder’s Legacy. That one really appeals to me.

    And isn’t it great to discover a book like Erica Elliott’s that allows you to learn more about a people who tug on your heart? A good mix of reviews, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was the same way about Lion Scream. She did an excellent job at putting it all together. I think you’d enjoy Murder’s Legacy, Mae. And yes, reading Erica Elliott’s memoir was timely.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s exciting to hear you’ve been working on a new book, Joan! Good reviews. Lion Scream was the first book I’ve read that had (working) links to other media. It was an interesting experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one was long overdue. I’m within 4-5 K words of finishing that first draft, and I couldn’t be more excited.

      I enjoyed those links in Lion Scream. Very informative and entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

Let's chat! I enjoy hearing from you.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.