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.

Digging In by Loretta Nyhan

Paige is a 40-something woman dealing with the unexpected loss of her husband, Jesse.  She and her teenage son, Trey, have grief to work through.  On top of that, Paige is dealing with changes at work due to the death of her boss.  Paige plants a garden in her yard to help her cope, which is against the by-laws of the neighborhood.  What results from this conflict is both sad and humorous. 

What I like:  The plot and characters are interesting, and the writing is good.  I like how Paige decides to reach out to others and get to know them.  There are good messages about not judging others when you don’t know their circumstances, the importance of community and doing your best.  The way the new boss at Paige’s job, Lukas, is obsessed with a book about building a business by writer Petra Polly is funny.  The scene where Paige and her boss and co-workers meet Petra is a riot.  

The issues:  I didn’t care for the way the f-bomb is dropped throughout the book.  My reasoning is it’s possible to make your point without resorting to bad language.  I also didn’t like how the characters don’t think there is anything wrong with sleeping around.  I realize lifestyle is an individual choice.  I’m not trying to start a debate.  However, I’ve known people who chose this particular lifestyle and regretted it.

I did enjoy Digging In, but it’s not a book I’d care about reading again.  I would be interested in checking out some of the author’s other books.

Fighter by Katie Cross

Serafina (Sera) is a waitress at the local diner who is dealing with an abusive brother and his drug dealer girlfriend.  Benjamin (Ben) is a well-known martial artist who is dealing with being a single parent to a lively little girl, Ava. 

Sera and Ben meet when Sera stops by the martial arts studio where Ben works to see about taking a self-defense training class.  Ben helps Sera with her brother and his girlfriend, and Sera helps Ben take care of Ava.  They are attracted to each other and getting to a point where they can admit this is a sometimes painful and sometimes amusing process.

Fighter is enjoyable and engaging with a positive message.   The mountain setting is wonderful.   I like the interaction between the characters.  There are some touching moments between Sera and Ben, Ava and Sera, and Ava and Sera’s parents.

I especially like how Sera and Ben’s relationship is mutual.  Although they have challenges, they reach outside of themselves and help each other.  Sera and Ben aren’t the helpless victim types.  They aren’t perfect, but they realize they have issues that need to be addressed and take steps to do so.  Sera and Ben acknowledge their love for each other and develop a loving relationship in the process.

Fighter is the fourth book in the Coffee Shop series and another fun, worthwhile story by Katie Cross.