A Singular and Whimsical Problem 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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A Singular and Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts aren’t exactly a typical duo of women in Toronto in 1910: two single, female detectives with their own private investigation firm. Their latest, Christmastime case, to find a lady’s missing cat, isn’t the most exciting prospect. But add into the mix a notorious suffragette and young women who’ve been disappearing from a correctional facility, and Merinda and Jem suddenly have their hands full in A Singular and Whimsical Problem, a mystery short by author Rachel McMillan.

Okay, so, off the top of my head, aside from The Boxcar Children and Hank the Cowdog mysteries in my childhood, a good number of Nancy Drew novels and a brief Agatha Christie jaunt in my teens, and my recent trip with The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, my experience with mystery/sleuth reads has been next to nil. Hence, I’m no mystery expert or anything, but I rather enjoyed this novella.

It’s got entertaining dashes of humor, even as it doesn’t make light of a serious human trafficking problem. There’s a lot packed into this quick read, which I liked, though it does seem to lend itself to some choppiness and holes. Some of that may be because the story is a companion to a novel and an introduction to a series, but other minor pieces just might not make complete sense.

Still, the main characters are interesting, the unfolding case is intriguing, there are lovely whispers of romance in the story, and the ending becomes especially Christmassy. This nonexpert in mysteries plans on reading more about Herringford and Watts.

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Here’s my review of the next book in the Herringford and Watts Mysteries series, The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder.

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)

Conductor of Light (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #2.5) The White Feather Murders (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #3)

Tropical Kiss or Miss by Liwen Y. Ho

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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. I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

Tropical Kiss or MissTropical Kiss Or Miss by Liwen Y. Ho

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

How ironic can Olivia Chan’s life get? She’s a mother and a marriage therapist, providing sound, professional advice for other people’s relationships while her own marriage has fallen apart. A Hawaiian getaway for Christmas may be just what Olivia needs in Tropical Kiss or Miss by author Liwen Y. Ho.

Nope, I didn’t read the blurb beforehand, and when I decided to take a break with this book, I expected a quick and light read to satisfy me in a quick and light kind of way. Quick, it was, and light–yes, I’d say so, as it didn’t give me a “heavy” feeling. But there are little things in this romantic story that add substance to it, and I found the timeline it follows to be particularly interesting. It kept me on my toes! There was one scene where I felt the drama heightened abruptedly and a little unnaturally, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

I’d recommend this read to anyone who’ll appreciate a short and sweet romance, light with substance.

Pemberton Manor: The Goodbye Girl by Becky Doughty

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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. I received a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review, from the author.
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Five Gold Stars

51ofxpylyglThe Goodbye Girl: A Serial Novel – The Prequel by Becky Doughty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Grace Winters is by no means petite. And perhaps when her fairly big foot accidentally steps on the toes of an apparently pompous August Jones in an antique elevator, he deserves it. But it just may be Grace’s luck (or something else?) when she, August, and a couple of Pemberton Manor residents get stuck in this elevator on Christmas Eve in Pemberton Manor: The Goodbye Girl by author Becky Doughty.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that, as a rule, I don’t do serialized novels. That is, I don’t do them until all the serials are published and I can just read the complete book. Reading a good story in pieces makes me feel teased and impatient.

But I’ll also be the first to admit, as I have before, that I’m up for reading any fiction with this author’s name on it, and The Goodbye Girl prequel was here and waiting. So I broke my own rule to read it and may have to return to the rule later, as I enjoyed this prequel so much that I’m already ready for the next Pemberton Manor installment.

I found this novella funny and distinctly touching, with such an understanding of human nature. And I love this Grace heroine, how compassionate, flawed, and grown she is. Yes, at a pivotal point in the story, I said to myself, “See, that’s what a heroine does when she’s not a self-centered little girl at heart. When she’s grown.” And the story closes–it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything, but it certainly whet my appetite to meet more of the Manor’s misfits.

The fact that it’s also a wonderful Christmas story is a bonus. So although I could see myself reading it at any time of the year, I’m glad I read it this week.

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After this prequel, you’ll want to read Episode One of Pemberton Manor, The Moon Mother.

Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes

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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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Five Gold Stars

bespokeBespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

What could she say to that? That being ripped away from her best friend, from this island, had unraveled her? That she’d wanted to return a thousand times?… It’s not your fault, James.

Aria knows the secret of the elusive Secret Symphony of her father, a renowned composer. Now that he’s reaching the end of his life, Aria wants to give him one final gift. But it will take enlisting the help of the blacksmith and childhood friend she lost, James, in Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by author Amanda Dykes.

I didn’t know what to expect of this new-to-me author or what to expect of this novella. I’d skimmed the blurb that I somehow suspected might only be a hazy tip of a substantive iceberg, but instead of trying to decipher it, I just opened the book and went for it.

And I was drawn into a mystery of sorts, one that gradually, quietly unfolds through the book. There’s such an aching beauty to this story, a story that, wisely, doesn’t feel it has to spell everything out for the reader. It’s tragic. Poignant. Intensely romantic. Redemptive and hopeful. And for someone like me who adores it when the art of music and the art of literature come together, the musical quality to the storytelling here is quite compelling.

I may appreciate this book the more for having experienced it at the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s not at all a tale I’d recommend confining to Christmastime.