Conductor of Light by Rachel McMillan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Conductor of Light by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s now 1912 in Toronto, and a lady detective duo is on the case when an actor dies onstage during a night of vaudeville theater. Well, actually, a gentleman reporter and constable duo is on the case first. But the four of them eventually team up to get to the bottom of the murder in Conductor of Light by author Rachel McMillan.

It wouldn’t be unfitting if the Herringford and Watts Mysteries were called the Herringford and Watts and DeLuca and Forth Mysteries by now. But that’d be too long a subtitle, of course. Detectives Merinda and Jem certainly aren’t alone on their cases with Jasper and Ray around, and this quartet of characters has really grown on me during the series. I also like this novella’s approach, different from the others, set up like a play.

It’s no secret that I’m quite a fan of short reads. But I’d say the novellas in this series aren’t as strong as the novels are, so far. While the portion of a mystery began rather late in Of Dubious and Questionable Memory, the mystery in Conductor of Light ends rather early while the book keeps…going. Even with the flashes of beauty and poignancy woven into the continuation, it’s as if the story doesn’t know exactly where to stop. I like the first novella best, and though I wouldn’t call the next two unnecessary filler, they do have something of a filler-ish feel.

Nevertheless, I think readers of the series should stop by this quick read if they want extra time with the core quartet and more of the complex pulse of Toronto. Looking forward to reading the next novel!

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Here’s my review of A Singular and Whimsical Problem.

A Singular and Whimsical Problem (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #.5) The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Herringford and Watts, #1) Of Dubious and Questionable Memory (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #1.5)

A Lesson in Love and Murder (Herringford and Watts Mysteries, #2) The White Feather Murders (Herringford and Watts Mysteries, #3)

The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Prairie settlements are in need of mission workers for local churches, and in Bible school, Emily responds to the call. Desiring to be a wife and mother someday, she imagines she’ll be ministering alongside a preaching husband. However, with no potential husband in sight, Emily decides what’s nearly unthinkable: she’ll head out to open a church on her own in The Calling of Emily Evans, a novel by author Janette Oke.

This is at least the third time I’ve read this novel. It’s the first in one of my all-time favorite series, Women of the West, by one of my all-time favorite authors. The book spoke to me on a number of levels when I read it years ago, witnessing the obstacles a young woman faces when she takes a different path than people expect.

Sure, the book has got some of the common things I’ve never been fond of in these novels. Sentences with too many dashes as the heroine frequently stammers over her words. Tears in her eyes so often that they lose their effect and cease to be interesting.

Yet, even with the overused stammers and tears, Emily is a strong heroine. Not because she feels strong or because she’s out to prove herself to everybody. No, she’s out to be of service. She doesn’t back away from hard work. Her determination springs from caring about people, and she continues to care even when she doesn’t have all the answers.

Even as my perspective shifts and expands over the years, this is still the kind of novel I could read over again.

Most Truly by Reina M. Williams

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Most TrulyMost Truly by Reina M. Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

What might have happened to Elizabeth Bennet’s younger sister, Kitty, and Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, after Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Author Reina M. Williams answers that question in her Love at Pemberley novella, Most Truly.

Well. I took the plunge.

I’ve never been easy with the idea of late sequels to classics, not written by a classic’s original author. But I gave this little romance a go, and it was a quick, pleasant read.

I liked the inclusion of Kitty’s uncertainty about how to carry out her own new attitude, though the number of mentions concerning her getting past her former silliness did become redundant. And, as Alfred, Lord Tennyson praised Austen for being “a great artist,” saying, “Miss Austen understood the smallness of life to perfection,” there is indeed an art to writing of the smallness of life without a story merely seeming slow or uneventful. I did find parts of this novella to be slow.

Nevertheless, the simple plot kept me interested as I imagined the characters as I frequently see them in the 1995 BBC miniseries production of Pride and Prejudice. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll still decline to read any direct retellings of Austen’s original novels, I’m a little–just a little–more open now to the thought of creative continuations.

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Most Truly is Book One in the Love at Pemberley series.

Miss Darcy Decides (Love at Pemberley, #2) Miss Bennet Blooms (Love at Pemberley, #3) Misunderstood: A Pride and Prejudice Novella (Love at Pemberley, #4)

Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Sometimes it seems like Ramona Quimby’s older sister, Beezus, gets all the attention and privileges in the family. In fact, Mrs. Quimby lets neighbors and friends know she couldn’t get along without Beezus, and Ramona feels left out. Yet, a drastic decision Ramona makes will remind her just how her mother feels about her in Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary.

What a pleasure to revisit one of my favorites in the Ramona series. (What a double-pleasure to have obtained a copy that even smells like the one I read all those years ago. Oh yes indeed.) Cleary has such an understanding of life through the eyes of a seven-and-a-half-year-old, showing how much those childhood matters matter. Reading chapter books! Feeling carsick. New pajamas! Mom and Dad have a spat. And, yes—practicing one’s cursive handwriting!

There are dashes of humor that got laughter out of me. But the story (and the Ramona series altogether) doesn’t avoid real-life situations that friends and families can find themselves in. And, gee, much like when I recently reread Ramona and Her Father, being able now to understand this story on a greater level from both an adult’s and a child’s point of view makes it all the more touching.

Sure, I may be growing even more sensitive in my adult years, but if a children’s book ever got a tear out of me toward the end, this one did. I blame the wonderful illustration that accompanies the scene!

Let’s see now, I’ve got two more Ramona books to revisit, and the newer one I’ve not read before…

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Here’s my review of Ramona and Her Father.