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In Which I Explain My Absence

Hey readers and friends. Things have been a little quiet around here lately. I really don’t like that, but it is mainly because I’ve been editing my novel. We’re also working on the cover, and so I’m hoping to reveal it soon, and then you will all know the title, what the cover looks like, and the release date! It’s getting really close to being finished, and I can’t wait for you all to find out more about it. Until then, thank you for bearing with me.

-Miranda Atchley

Review: Conductor of Light by Rachel McMillan

by Rachel McMillan

In 1912, Jem DeLuca, née Watts, and Merinda Herringford are still working as lady detectives in Toronto. While Jem’s newspaper reporter husband Ray and Merinda’s admirer Detective Constable Jasper Forth go out to the theatre, Jasper having been set up on a date with a nice, church-going girl by his mother, the two lady detectives claim to be going to the picture show. Yet they can’t resist pursuing a case of a missing necklace on their way home, leading them just outside of the Elgin and Winter Garden theatres. Meanwhile, inside various performers go through their acts of singing, ventriloquism, and miming, among other things. As The Great Stephano performs the classic death scene in Romeo and Juliet, one half of the Tansy Twins playing opposite him, the charming actor suddenly and mysteriously dies. Jem, Merinda, Ray, and Jasper, along with a little help from Kat and Mouse, soon pursue the case, finding traces of rat poison in Stephano’s prop gauntlet. The team spends the night interviewing members of the vaudeville group, and soon finds that racism could play a part in the murder of the talented actor.

Another fun adventure in the Herringford and Watts Mysteries. McMillan’s love for theatre shines in this short story. Conductor of Light is full of charm with lots of quirky characters and a diverse cast. I enjoyed reading about the various acts taking place in the vaudeville set and of course, the humor that I’ve come to expect from this series.  I also love the quote by Arthur Conan Doyle used in the book, of which the title is derived from:
“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.” 
So beautiful. And the change that we can see working within Merinda; love it!

Sometimes, I get a little nervous about novellas and shorter books, afraid I’ll miss the details that really bring the story to life. But I never feel that way when reading the Herringford and Watts novellas. They’re fast paced, full of witty banter, and plenty of mystique as you try and guess at who has committed the most recent crime Jem and Merinda find themselves solving.

All in all, Conductor of Light is yet again a great balance of humor, heartfelt, and mystery with lots of historical charm.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

By Jean Webster

Jerusha Abbot is a seventeen-year-old orphan living in the John Grier Home. As the story begins, she attends a local high school while working at the orphan asylum. Yet seeing as she is preparing to graduate from high school, she will soon be released from the home. In light of these circumstances, an anonymous trustee has elected to donate the money for Jerusha to go to college, as well as a monthly allowance. His only request is that Jerusha write monthly letters to him, addressed to a Mr. Smith, detailing her education. Mr. Smith claims he will not answer these letters in order to remain anonymous. Being a smart young woman with a love for reading and writing, Jerusha is thrilled, planning to become an author after college. At college, she learns more than she ever imagined possible, and makes new friends. Through her letters, she comes to feel affectionate toward Mr. Smith, or rather Daddy-Long-Legs, as she calls him, but wishes she could meet him. At the end of her education, Jerusha finally gets her wish, but is surprised by who she meets.

I love this book. The review could end there, but I won’t let it. I’d read other books by Jean Webster a couple of years ago and downloaded the free copy of Daddy-Long-Legs on my Kindle, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it until recently. And I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. It is such a good book! I love everything about the book, but my favorite part is the protagonist. I love how whimsical Jerusha is; she reminds me a lot of Anne Shirley. I love how funny she is, and how she’s energetically curious and interested in learning about the world. She’s definitely a new favorite heroine for me.

I really like that this book is written in letter style; it’s the perfect thing for this book and I couldn’t imagine it being written any other way. Everything moved at a fast pace and I was sad when it was over. There are elements of romance, but it isn’t just a romance; it’s about Jerusha growing up and learning about the world, finding her place.

As I am sure it is plain to see, I was beyond thrilled as I flew through the pages of this masterpiece by Jean Webster. Not only will readers of the classics and historical fiction love this novel, but any one that loves to get lost in a good book will enjoy Daddy-Long-Legs.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Top Ten Books: Ten 2016 Releases I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

We all know how it goes; so many books are released every year, and we just want to read them all. But there are only so many hours in the day, and therefore, we can’t get to all the books we’d like in a timely fashion. So some new releases sometimes go unread by us for a time. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic deals exactly with this conundrum. We’ve been asked to list ten books released in 2016 that we wanted to read, yet were unable to, but totally plan to in the near future. Here are ten books that came out last year that I wanted to read, but simply couldn’t get to.

10: I’ll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones
Jenny was one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager. This book got a lot of great reviews last year, and I don’t doubt that it lives up to the hype. Hopefully I can read it sometime soon.

9: The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson
I read a sample of this book on my Kindle and I really liked it. I love the Prince Edward Island setting! I’d liked to read the rest of it sometime.

8: Talking As FastAs I Can by Lauren Graham
If you’ve visited A Real Writer’s Life much in the last couple of months, then you know that I’ve mentioned this book a lot. I haven’t been able to get a copy yet, but I’m hoping to sometime.

7: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
I haven’t actually finished the original four books of The Lunar Chronicles; I still need to read to Winter. But once I do, I definitely want to read this bonus book that came out last year.

I read one story in this collection for review before it was released, but I’ve yet to read the other four. I’d really like to read them this year.
This collection of fairytale retellings released toward the end of 2016. I haven’t read it yet, but when it was recently on sale I downloaded it and am looking forward to reading these stories.

4: A Will, A Way, and A Wedding by Melody Carlson
I started reading the Dear Daphne series toward the end of last year. So far I’ve read the first three. This last book in the series was released in 2016 and I’m looking forward to seeing how everything comes together.

3: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
Some of Katherine’s books might not have been absolute favorites of mine, but I’ve generally liked them and I’m quite curious about this novel revolving around a painter who marries an Italian and travels to his family’s country.

2: The Lady and The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof
I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book since it released at the end of last summer. It sounds like a good book, and I read a sample of it and liked it, so I’d like to read the rest of it this year.

1: Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac
I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoyed Kara’s debut since I don’t read much contemporary romance at all. But I did, and I really want to read her latest, which released toward the end of 2016.

Were there any books you wanted to read last year, but simply couldn’t get to? Tell me about them in the comments.

-Miranda Atchley

Lately 1.7.2017

Good day, readers and friends! I’m checking in with my very first “Lately” post of 2017. I’m still shocked that it’s 2017. We’re only a few years away from being in the 2020s. I wish we could make the next set of ‘20s like the last one; with shingled haircuts, (even though I attempted that once and it did not work on my naturally frizzy, thick hair.) fringe dresses, and jazz music. It would be so fun!

Anyway, it’s been awfully cold here. We got snow! We hadn’t had a real snow in two years where I live, so it was very exciting. It’s so fun to go outside and look at the snow and then come inside and read or write. Speaking of which, here is what I’ve been reading and writing lately.

Snow in our backyard!


I’m making progress on my goal of reading 60 books this year. I read books 2 and 3 in the Dear Daphne series by Melody Carlson at the beginning of the month and finished Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren this morning. If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Goodreads, then you already know that I finally read Daddy-Long-Legs and I loved it. Why did I wait so long to read this book? I know that it’s only January, but I’m just going to go ahead and say that it is in top ten reads of the year. I’m going to start on my non-fiction read for the month; I just can’t decide if I want to read a Susan B. Anthony biography I have on my Kindle, or Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Maybe I could start one this weekend, and another one toward the end of the month.


At the end of December, I reached 50K on my latest novel. This month I have really started to edit it (I had been editing certain parts, but now the whole book is getting edited). I’ve finally come up with a title, but I want to keep it a secret for now. Sorry! But I’m planning to do a cover reveal soon, so you’ll all know it then. My beta readers are going over it, so it is all coming together! It’s very exciting. At times this book has been difficult to write because there are a lot of important historical events that take place and I want to keep them as straight as I can. The fact that I started this book only five months ago hasn’t been a huge help, either. But sometimes things just take more time and effort; in the end, it’s all worth it, though.

I hope 2017 is going well for you all so far. Thank you for stopping by, and come back soon for more tales from this writer’s life.

-Miranda Atchley

Review: Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

by Lisa T. Bergren

After another year at Normal School in 1913, Cora Diehl is simply looking forward to a summer at home with her mother and father, helping them on their Montana farm. Yet on the day she arrives home, her papa suffers a stroke and the doctor doesn’t expect him to make it. When her papa awakens the next morning, Cora feels triumphant, having expected he would all along. Yet it isn’t long until he suffers another stroke. Cora wants to help send him to a better hospital, and so she retrieves the diamond necklace she received as a birthday gift from an anonymous person. Before she’s able to do so, a beautiful and expensive carriage pulls onto the farm and from it climbs the wealthiest man in Montana, copper king Wallace Kensington, claiming that he is Cora’s biological father, as well as the one who has sent her extravagant gifts for each birthday. Cora’s mother confirms this, much to her dismay. Having heard of Mr. Diehl’s poor health, Mr. Kensington has come to offer Cora a spot on The Grand Tour with his other children, as well as to pay for her papa to go to the hospital in Minneapolis. Upon her mother’s insistence, Cora agrees, not knowing what to expect. It won’t be easy trying to fit in with her new found family among the pampered youth on The Grand Tour of Europe, but Cora will learn and experience things she never thought possible.

This was a good book. From the beginning I found myself interested in it with its unique plot from the beginning. Questions as to how Cora would come to go on the Grand Tour (since I knew she would, given the summary) and who the person was that had been sending gifts to her intrigued me until they were answered. Seeing the new world Cora was thrust into upon discovering her new family was interesting and kept me guessing. I felt for Cora with all that had been going on; from her father being ill, to leaving her home and having to become acquainted with new siblings and family friends that have been raised to think they’re a cut above. I also felt sorry for Will seeing as how much he wanted to return to school, but had to put his education on hold in order to earn money while watching all of these wealthy young people, one even being his former classmate, live as they pleased.

Another thing I love about this book; the cover. It’s so pretty! I love the pink and gold sky behind the Eiffel tower, and Cora’s dress.

All in all, I liked Glamorous Illusions and would recommend it to any fan of historical fiction.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Reading and Blogging Goals For 2017

Hey readers and friends. We’re in a brand new year. Can you believe it’s 2017 already? It’s strange to think about it. Time really does go so much faster the older you get. Since it’s a new year and we’re all making resolutions/goals, I thought I’d post some of the reading and blogging goals I’m setting out for myself in 2017.

Read 60 Books

Last year, I really didn’t set out any reading goals for myself. I knew I wanted to read more classics, and since many of those are lengthy with bulky language, I didn’t want to set a number goal in stone. Yet toward the end of the year, I got awfully close to having read 60 books in 2016, so I decided to make that a goal in December. This year, I’d like to read 60 more books. I’m still making my way through some of the classics, because they are my favorites, but I’m also hoping to find some new books to love in other genres.

Read Books on My Shelf That Haven’t Been Read

I have a lot of books on my shelves that I’ve purchased from yard sales, thrift stores, and library book sales that have gone unread for far too long. I really want to at least try reading most, if not all of them, over the course of this year. I suppose I ought apply this rule to the many free books I’ve downloaded on my Kindle, as well.

Read More Non-Fiction

I also want to read more non-fiction. Fiction is my favorite, but I enjoy non-fiction from time to time and I think it would good for me to read at least one non-fiction book per month. Mere Christianity has sat on my shelf unread for an embarrassingly long time, so I already know of one I can (attempt to) read.

Write Book Reviews Differently

For the past two years, I’ve been writing book reviews and posting them as Book of the Week. I want to start doing something different. I want to just write regular reviews and discontinue Book of the Week. This way, I can write multiple reviews each week if I want, or skip a week without feeling guilty.

So those are my plans in my reading and blogging life for 2017. Have any of you made goals for this year? If you have, tell me about them in the comments!

-Miranda Atchley