In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Our main character is Reverend Clare Fergusson and she starts the story by discovered a newborn baby abandoned on the steps of her church. In giving her report to the police, she meets the Chief of the small town police, and asks to go with him on patrol. A few nights later on patrol, they discover a dead teenage girl and thus starts the "solve the murder" part of this murder mystery.
This was the choice for one of my book clubs, and I have to be honest. I don't read murder-mysteries. I thought for a long time about why that is, and remembered that when I was 12 or 13 I read all of Mary Higgins Clark's book (seriously, every single one). When I decided I was done with those, I just moved on to different genres. The only time I have ever gone back to something that can be called murder-mystery is Sherlock Holmes (and in my mind, it's a completely different genre), ... and Castle... which I like because I think it's hilarious.
That whole explanation is really me saying I didn't really like this, because I don't really like murder-mysteries. I read this quickly and was entertained as I was reading it, but there were some things that annoyed me. So first, Clare kept rushing off and doing really stupid things because she had some idea about the case. Then, both Clare and the Chief kept leaping to completely unfounded conclusions, and acting on them with no evidence. Then, Clare and the Chief develop a relationship, and I was frustrated with the romantic tones of the relationship because he is married and she is a priest. And finally, the resolution of the mystery was a little ridiculous. Seriously? Who acts like that?
Oh! And! When this was discussed at book club, the girl who suggested it made it sound like it was a brand-new book from this writer. So the characters spent the entire time running around and leaving messages at each other's houses and pagers and one character was a shock because she had internet. And I spent the entire time reading, thinking, "What the? Why don't they have cell phones?"
It's a quick read, so if you like murder-mysteries, I won't say never-ever read it. But the writing is uneven, and I think there must be better murder-mysteries out there. (Like Castle's Nikki Heat series).
The Cubicle Next Door by Siri L. Mitchell
A nerdy girl writes a blog called "The Cubicle Next Door" and begins writing about her new officemate. A romance blossoms, she freaks out, writes about him on her blog, he reads it. And I'm pretty sure you know how that ends.
Again, a book club pick. Ok, this is kind of a funny story: Last month we read Driving Mr. Albert, on my suggestion because it had been recommended to me. Everyone HATED it. Everyone. Including me.... So our book club meeting went a little something like this:
"Hi guys, what's in the bag?"
"My book picks for next month. We have got to pick something better."
"Uh, do you want to talk about this book?"
"It was horrible."
"Uh... Ok. What did you bring?"
So, everyone settled on this romance/chick lit.
This was a pretty long book, which was unexpected, but I read it really quickly. It's very standard romance fare. I'm unsure about whether it would be classified as chick lit, because while the main character Jackie is 31, has a job, and seems to be pretty successful at it, she is really weak. I thought the chick lit genre was all about girl power and romance.
I don't read a lot of chick lit or romance novels, but I've read enough to know that this is pretty standard and fluffy entertainment. So that is how I read it, as just fluffy beach-read entertainment.
And I was still completely annoyed.
Jackie is a weak character, as I mentioned. She has chosen to isolate herself from all relationships except those she develops online. As Joe (the guy) pursues her, she whines and cringes and hems and haws and winds up acting really rude because of her neurosis. For some reason, Joe is willing to hang around her for a year (the passage of time got weird) and put up with all of this. And I was like, yeah right, I'd so be out of there.
Like with the murder-mystery, it's a quick read, so if you like chick-lit, I won't say don't ever read it. But I have to think that there is better chick lit out there.