The Snow Gypsy

Rose is a veterinarian living in England at the end of World War II.  Lola is a young Gypsy living in Spain at the time of the Spanish Civil War.  She has lost her family.

Rose and Lola connect when Rose travels to Spain to try to find out what has happened to her brother, Nathan.  He went to Spain to fight against Franco’s politics and Rose hasn’t heard from him for eight years.  The women’s love for Nieve, a little girl Lola rescued as a baby after a massacre in her village further strengthens their bond.

The historical setting and descriptions of the Spanish countryside are interesting, as is the information about the Gypsy or Roma culture and the flamenco dancing descriptions.  I like Lola and Rose and the interaction between them.  I love Nieve, she’s a lively little girl, and I love Gunesh, Rose’s dog. 

I didn’t like the way Rose slept with not just one, but two men who weren’t honest with her.  I kind of understand where Zoltan is coming from.  He is ashamed of his past and doesn’t want to broadcast it.  He should have been upfront with Rose, however.  Cristobal is a jerk.  Of course, Rose chose to get involved with these men.  I understand it takes two.  This content didn’t add to or make the story better in my opinion.

More information about the Spanish Civil War itself would have been interesting.  The story focuses mostly on the characters, and while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, more about the historical setting would have been good.  The ending is abrupt and unexpected.  There are a lot of years not accounted for between the last two chapters.

I did enjoy The Snow Gypsy for the most part, but it’s not a book I would go out of my way to read again.  I am interested in checking out some of Lindsay Jayne Ashford’s other books.

Wild Child by Katie Cross

Ellie and Devin have been best friends since childhood and plan to go to college together.  This changes when Devin decides to join the Marines (for a good reason-to help his family).  However, Devin doesn’t tell Ellie his plans until just before he’s supposed to leave.

Ellie is understandably upset about this and doesn’t attend Devin’s going away party in person but watches from a distance.  Ellie and Devin don’t speak for three years.  Ellie deliberately avoids situations where she might see Devin when he visits.  They finally reconnect and express their feelings.  Ellie and Devin have always loved each other and still do.  This is made more apparent when Ellie and Devin have to deal with some people who are into drugs.

Wild Child is a sweet, entertaining book.  I love the interaction between Ellie and Devin.  The importance of sharing thoughts and feelings and listening to another person’s side of the story is communicated well.  I love the mountain setting, and Ellie’s job as an outdoor guide is interesting.  I did wonder about her agreeing to take people she is getting bad vibes from on an outdoor guide, but at least Devin went with her.  The outdoor guide is an opportunity for Ellie and Devin to spend time together and help each other.

Wild Child is the sixth book in the Coffee Shop series another winner by Katie Cross.

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist living and working in Montreal, Canada, believes there is a connection in cases involving women whose bodies have been mutilated in a similar fashion.  The Canadian police aren’t inclined to believe this unfortunately.

Circumstances change when a friend of Brennan’s is murdered, and evidence suggests someone is after Brennan and her daughter Katy.  Brennan is confronted by the killer and in danger before she manages to get away from him and he is brought to justice.

Pros:  Brennan is an engaging character.  She’s tough on the outside and sticks up for herself as necessary.  On the inside, she is vulnerable and struggling with the tragedy she deals with at work.  The information on how investigations are conducted and the French phrases throughout the book are interesting.

Cons:  I don’t care for the bad language, although in this case it fits into the context of the story.  The content is gruesome, which of course isn’t surprising.  Murder and forensics aren’t pleasant.  However, there is no balance.  I’m familiar with the TV show Bones, although I haven’t watched it for a while.  The book and the show are very different.  The investigations on the show are gruesome also, but the interaction between Brennan and Booth is funny and provides a break from the grimness.  The book is rather long too.

For the most part, I enjoyed Deja Dead, and I will likely read more books by Ms. Reichs, but I’m not going to rush to do so.

Shy Girl by Katie Cross

Dabny has loved Jayson from a distance since they went to high school together.  Dabny is quiet and stays in the background because she stutters, and Jayson is three years ahead of her and pretty wrapped up in his friends, so they don’t interact.  Jayson isn’t aware of Dabny’s existence.

This continues after high school.  Dabny and Jayson see each other and say hello at the Diner where Dabny used to work, and at the Frolicking Moose coffee shop where she currently works but that is it.   Things change when there is an attempted robbery at the Frolicking Moose and Jayson, who is a deputy, helps Dabny.  They begin to interact a little more.  Jayson is going to a friend’s wedding in the Caribbean.  Victoria, a woman Jayson dated, is going to be there and he doesn’t want to go alone.  He impulsively asks Dabny if she will go with him and after thinking about it, she says yes.  It turns out the bride-to-be is the daughter of Dabny’s biological father, a wealthy man named Anthony Dunkin.  Dabny has always wanted to meet her biological father who was never part of her life, and the wedding provides the opportunity.  Dabny and Jayson both deal with issues and connect on this trip.

I enjoyed Shy Girl.  I like the interaction between Dabny and Jayson and the author does a good job communicating the challenges of having a problem like stuttering and how this problem can make you feel isolated.  Jayson is also dealing with a relationship that ended badly and a friendship that is changing because his friend is getting married and this is communicated well also.  I did wonder about the wisdom of going on a long trip with someone you don’t really know, but Dabny and Jayson set boundaries.  I didn’t like Victoria or Anthony Dunkin at all, but I don’t think they were meant to be likable characters.  I loved how Jayson stands up to Victoria and Dabny stands up to Dunkin.  There is a good message about not getting too obsessed with situations you can’t do a lot about and considering the long-term impact your actions can have on others.

Shy Girl is another fun, engaging book in the Coffee Shop series and a worthwhile read.