March Book Reviews Part Two

March was a busy month for me, reading-wise. Here’s the second part of my reviews. If you missed the other post, you can read it by clicking here.

Between The Vines

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After reading the first two books of Staci Troilo’s latest series, I couldn’t wait for Between the Vines. It didn’t disappoint.

Between the Vines is the third and final novella in the Keystone Couples Series. And just when I thought the books couldn’t get better, this one did.

The storyline is well-written and nicely paced. There are touches of humor, and the setting is perfect.

The attraction between Elena and Aaron is apparent from the beginning, although neither one wants to admit it at first.

Add to that Aaron’s ex-fiancée, Heather, who is out to make trouble for Elena. If ever there was a villain to hate, it’s Heather. Troilo did a fantastic job with this character as she did with Elena and Aaron.

I enjoyed all the books in the Keystone Couples series, but this is my favorite. Highly recommend it.

Amazon Purchase Link

Blood Hollow

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When my husband insisted he needed to buy me a birthday gift, I asked if I could pick out something I wanted. I went straight to Amazon and purchased the second set of William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. I hope to finish all the previous titles before the nineteenth book releases in August.

This is the fourth book of the Cork O’Connor series, and it didn’t disappoint. When a young woman goes out of a snowmobile ride on a frigid winter night and doesn’t return, Cork O’Connor is part of the search and rescue team.

Months later, a couple of tourists discover her body. The incompetent sheriff focuses on one potential suspect, Solemn Winter Moon. When Solemn is arrested, Cork’s wife Jo agrees to defend him. She asks for Cork’s help in finding the real killer.

Krueger left a lot of breadcrumbs. Although I had a few suspicions, I kept guessing right up to the end.

The story also touches on the O’Connor family dynamics, Cork, Jo, the children, and Jo’s sister, Rose. Cork also does a lot of soul searching in this one.

I enjoy the small-town setting of Aurora and look forward to revisiting several recurring characters such as Henry Meloux. Krueger also introduces new ones with each book that keep the storylines interesting. Like with the other books, his descriptions of the Minnesota wilderness put the reader in the heart of the setting.

If you like mysteries with small town settings, this is a great series.

Amazon Purchase Link

Yellow Hair

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ve had this book on my radar for quite some time. Given my recent interest in reading about Native Americans, I decided to give it a try.

After reading several reviews, I had high hopes for this book. While there were many good things about the story, I also found several issues.

I’ll begin with the positive. First, I applaud the amount of research that the author did in writing this book. It’s apparent he did his homework. The combination of real historical events and fiction had the makings of a compelling story.

I enjoyed the author’s use of Native American terms such as “six night’s sleep,” or “fourteen winters.” Language such as “The Winter of the Lone Elk” intrigued me. Not to mention the Dakota Tribe’s names of the moons — “Moon when cherries grow ripe,” and “Moon of the Changing Season,” are two examples.

However, there are several issues that I found distracting. The book was written in different tenses. I first noticed it changed with chapters, later during scenes, and finally, there was past and present in one scene. This jarred me from the story.

The repeated use of phrases like “As the whites tell time” were overdone and distracting. I think we know what the year 1858 means.

The book often changed narratives from the fictional story into historical facts. It was like reading a novel and a textbook in the same book.

There was a lot of telling and not enough showing. No showing of emotion. I found it hard to connect to the characters.

There were excerpts that bordered on author intrusion. As an example. “He then heads to the Baker farm to see the bodies for himself and to retrieve the Baker and Jones children, not knowing Clara Jones is dead.”

If the author had taken the time to show readers that scene, it would have read so much better.

Yellow Hair was not a page-turner and the pace slowed even more in the middle. I trudged on but found myself skimming the last few chapters.

Bottom line: Andrew Joyce is a good storyteller. The use of a good editor could have made a difference.

Amazon purchase link

35 thoughts on “March Book Reviews Part Two

  1. Great reviews, Joan. I can’t wait to get into Staci’s book since I enjoyed the first one. I haven’t read any Krueger and it sounds like I should. I DNF’d Yellow Hair for many of the same reasons you noted. That was disappointing because I was looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m fascinated by the Native American culture, so I enjoy the elements that Krueger includes in his stories.

      I was so disappointed in Yellow Hair. Like you, I’d looked forward to reading it for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Beem. I hesitate to post negative reviews. (I don’t consider three star negative but neutral. However, when I do, I like to list the reasons why I chose that rate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your reviews, Joan! Staci’s book, of course, is already on my radar. It’s such a great series of books! Blood Hollow’s cover is gorgeous! Can’t wait to add these others to my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re in for a treat when you read Staci’s book, Marlena. I do like the cover of Blood Hollow. I’m one of those readers who can be totally turned off from a book if the cover isn’t appealing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great reviews, Joan 🙂 I love you choose a book for your bday present. It sounds like a good read. I read and enjoyed Yellow Hair and Between the Vines.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your thoughts on these excellent reviews Joan. I just finished the second Keystone Couples book and enjoyed it too. I’m looking forward to the last one which is on my Kindle. I also read Yellow Hair and enjoyed it very much. I did not notice its flaws, but that could be because the story grabbed me, and subconsciously I probably overlooked them. Thanks, again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yellow Hair had a lot of good reviews, John. It was a good story but after a while, I just couldn’t overlook the POV changes. The Keystone Couples series is a great one. I like all the books, but as I said in my review, this one was my favorite.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing these reviews, Joan. I loved Between The Vines and highly recommend it for some light and humorous reading. I have had Yellow Hair on my Kindle for years. Now I know why it hasn’t called out to me. Blood Hollow sounds good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of people loved Yellow Hair, and I wanted to like it, given the subject matter. The Keystone series was a delight to read. Highly recommend the books.


  6. Joan, thank you for that wonderful review. I’m so glad the series got better for you instead of falling off, and I appreciate the kind words very much.

    I’m going to have to start reading the Cork O’Connor series. As soon as I’m done with Deep Ops! Sorry about Yellow Hair. I hate it when I have high expectations and the book doesn’t meet them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That may be my next read, then. I finished the Deep Ops series on Scribd, then downloaded the newest one on NetGalley. I was going to start a different series of hers, but maybe I’ll take a Zanetti break and read that first.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I purchased the first Deep Ops book last week while it was on sale. I think I’m going to subscribe to Scribd to read the others. Plus, they have so many books to choose from. If you do begin the O’Connor series, I hope you enjoy it.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you are so invested in the Cork O’Conner series, Joan. It’s fantastic when you find a series you love so much (I’m like that with Pendergast).

    It’s a shame about Yellow Hair. Tense changes are horribly distracting, and it sounds like there are other problems as well. Too bad it didn’t have a good edit.

    I loved Between the Vines. Like you, it was my favorite of the Keystone Couples series, and that’s saying a lot since they were all so good.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m enjoying them. Just finished book five and will soon move to book six (after I get a couple of other books off my TBR list). I had looked forward to Yellow Hair. It had a lot of potential, but after a while, I couldn’t ignore the tense changes.

      And yes, I loved Between the Vines.

      Liked by 2 people

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