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Review: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

by Elizabeth Gaskell

In this classic novel, Elizabeth Gaskell introduces us to the small village of Cranford. Largely dominated by lower class women, we read the stories of life in a small impoverished hamlet in Victorian England. Such stories include the women of Cranford entertaining visitors, going about their daily lives, losing dear friends, and losing their life savings. As the women of Cranford endure such things, their neighbors offer all they have to give in order to help their friends.

I really loved this book. I love the Victorian era, and this book gave some insight into what life was like for those Victorians that were not born into royalty. It was a lighter read than books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I really liked how the Cranford women were there for one another. When one hit a rough patch, the others were there to help and support her in any way they could. It’s a nice message to read about and one that I think ought to be portrayed more in literature.

This was a wonderful novel. Any fan of classic literature should read Cranford.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Lately 8.8.2017

Hello, readers and friends! It seems odd that it’s August already. Summer is almost over. Can’t say I’m sad about that; fall is my favorite time of year, so I’m looking forward to it. Thankfully though, we’ve been having a few almost fall-like days. It’s definitely not the type of weather we’re used to this time of year in Arkansas. Amidst this, I’ve been getting some reading and a little writing done. Here’s what I’ve been up to.


I’ve been having some trouble with my current novel. It’s really close to being finished, and I’m almost to the point where it’s just editing that needs to be done. There are a few holes in the story, though, and I’m having trouble filling them. While I’ve been having trouble with that, I’ve been working on some other projects, so that helps me to feel a little bit better.


I’ve been going a little slower with reading than I would like to this month. I finished Cloudy Jewel, which I liked, and am now reading Cranford.

So there’s my lately. What have you all been reading/writing? Tell me about it!

-Miranda Atchley

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books From This Summer

Hello, readers and friends! Since The Broke and The Bookish are still on hiatus, I, like many other bloggers, came up with another topic to write about this week. Today I thought it would be fun to list my top ten books that I read this summer. I read a lot of great books over the last few months. Here are my top ten books of summer 2017!

10: The Girl of The Woods by Grace Livingston Hill
This was my first Grace Livingston Hill novel. I really liked it and have since read more of her novels. She’s become one of my favorite authors.

9: The Butterfly and The Violin by Kristy Cambron
This book was heartbreaking, yet so poignant and filled with hope.

8: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I read my last Austen novel this summer! It wasn’t my favorite Austen, but I did like it a lot.

7: Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin
This was the first novel I’ve read by Lynn Austin. It was a really good book with a surprise ending.

6: Swept Away by Vanessa Riley
This was such a fun and fresh take on the Cinderella story set in the Regency era.

5: The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson
I loved the Prince Edward Island setting of this book and the characters were charming.

4: Fly Away Home by Rachel Heffington
This was such a fun and snappy Christian historical novel set in the 1950s. I really liked it.

3: Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pitman
This book was so much fun! I loved Lily, Cullen, and Betty Ruth, and of course, the 1920s setting. It was a great Christian historical.

2: The Hound of TheBaskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This has been my favorite of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries so far. I loved the fall setting and the eerie elements. It was a really good book.

1: TheIllusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron
I loved this book. I liked the characters, the period it was set in, and the mystery woven throughout. It is definitely one of my favorite books of 2017.

And there you have my top ten books from this summer. What were some of your favorite books you read over the summer? Feel free to gush about them in the comments.

-Miranda Atchley

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Authors

Happy Tuesday, readers and friends! The Broke and The Bookish is still on hiatus, so today I have my own Top Ten Tuesday post for you all. Today I wanted to list ten of my favorite authors. I think it’s good to shine a spotlight on these individuals, because after all, if it weren’t for authors, we wouldn’t have books to read. It was hard to narrow it down, but I’ve managed to list ten authors whom I think are very talented at what they do. Enjoy!

Rachel McMillan

Rachel’s Herringford and Watts Mysteries have been a great series. They’re such fun adventures of strong women in the Edwardian era.

Amber Stokes

Amber is a very talented author. She writes beautiful stories of love and redemption.

Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson has been one of my favorite authors for a long time. I loved her young adult novels when I was a teenager.

Kristy Cambron

I’ve enjoyed all of Kirsty’s novels. They’re deep and poignant with strong messages of hope that everyone needs to hear.

Jane Austen

What would a list of favorite authors be without Jane Austen? Her novels are timeless and have been passed down through the generations for over 200 years. I love her books.

Grace Livingston Hill

At times Grace Livingston Hill’s style of writing reminds me of L.M. Montgomery’s. Her stories are full of faith and they’re always light reads. I’ve really come to enjoy Grace’s writing.

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is a kindred spirit. Her writing is great and characters are so real.

Jean Webster

I love Jean Webster’s style of writing. It’s snappy and has a fast pace with that classic flair that I enjoy so much. Her books are easy to get lost in and hard to put down.

Charlotte Brontë

I read Jane Eyre for the first time last year and loved it. Charlotte Brontë was such a talented author.

L.M. Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery has been one of my favorites for a long time. I just love her writing.

Who are some of your favorite authors? I’d love to hear about them.

Thank you all for stopping by this week! Until next time…

-Miranda Atchley

Review: The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

by Kristy Cambron

Wren Lockhart used to work for Harry Houdini. She’s one of the few people on earth that knows how the famous illusionist pulled off his stunts. Now at the beginning of 1927, three months after Harry’s death, Horace Stapleton is claiming that he can bring a dead man back to life. FBI agents Elliot Matthew and Connor Finnegan attend the event, having suspicions about the vaudeville performer. When the man Stapleton seemingly brings back to life dies soon after, they have a new case to solve. They begin interviewing the famous and eccentric Wren Lockhart in her home with doors that she keeps locked, not trusting anyone with her secrets. Wren hates that Stapleton promises he can communicate with the dead and wants to prove him wrong, yet she’s worried that the secrets of her career as well as her personal life, which she keeps closely guarded, will be revealed.

I loved this book. Wren was a really neat character that was easy to like. I really appreciated that she was strong and a different sort of woman for the time period portrayed in this book. Elliot wasn’t my favorite hero ever, but he was still likeable and I appreciate that he gave Wren her space. It was interesting to read about the worlds of vaudeville and illusion in this book. And I’m always game for a novel set in the 1920s, ‘cause that is the best. The writing made me feel like I was really in early 20th century Boston during the winter time. Just like Kristy Cambron’s other novels, this book was really well written.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice was an all-around good book. Fans of Christian historical fiction and novels about the 1920s will enjoy this novel.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I Finally Watched The 1995 Pride and Prejudice Mini-Series

When I graduated from high school, my cousin gave me the 2005 Pride and Prejudice as a gift, starring Kiera Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland, and others. At the time, I hadn’t yet read the book, but when I watched the movie, I loved it. It’s a really beautiful film. The lighting, the costumes, the scenery; it’s very pretty to look at. I always thought that everyone played their parts really well, and I liked Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet; he just really fits that role well.

For a while I’d wanted to watch the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series. I read the book at age 20 and I really enjoyed it. I’d always heard that the mini-series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth was the Holy Grail. So this year, I finally ordered my own copy from Amazon and watched it.

I loved it.

I love the look of the series; the costumes look more authentic and the Bennets’s home looks more like I think Jane Austen probably intended it. The scenery is really pretty and gives that nice English country side vibe to the series. The actors fit their roles really well- I thought Jennifer made the perfect Lizzy Bennet. It was a really nice mini-series that I enjoyed.

There were things here and there that the 2005 film did differently that I didn’t like. Like when Lizzy visits Pemberley Park and sees the statue of Darcy, but in the book they looked at the paintings, which was portrayed in the 1995 mini-series. And the proposals were more accurately portrayed in the mini-series, as well. I think the mini-series portrayed a more authentic version of Pride and Prejudice.

This topic has been much debated in the Austenite circle ever since the 2005 film premiered. Some love it, some hate it.

But I love both.

It’s hard for me to say that I hate one and love the other, because I don’t. There are things that I love about both versions. As stated before, I love the costumes in the mini-series; I’ve always liked the look of Regency clothing, and I think the mini-series depicted a more authentic version of period clothing. I think all the actors did really well in their roles and brought Jane Austen’s characters to life. The scenery is beautiful and the scenes stay pretty much true to the book. But, I still have room in my heart for the 2005 Focus Feature, with its pretty lighting, beautiful music, and fun Mr. Bennet.

So readers and friends, I’m curious; what are your thoughts on these two versions of Pride and Prejudice?

-Miranda Atchley

Review: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

by Katherine Reay

Working as an art restorer, Emily Price’s life revolves around fixing things, both in her work as well as in her personal life. Though her specialty is restoring other artists’ art, she loves to paint her own pictures and dreams of having her work featured in her own gallery show. When she’s sent to Atlanta for work, she meets Ben Vassallo, a native of Italy who’s visiting the states to check in on his estranged brother and to help revive his aunt and uncle’s restaurant. Emily and Ben quickly fall in love, marrying only two weeks after meeting one another. As they go home to Italy, Ben’s family is shocked by his whirl wind romance, offering a mixture of reactions from his sister Francesca’s delight, to his mother Donata’s outrage. Added to all this is Ben’s father, Lucio who’s health is declining. The older man takes a shine to Emily, telling her stories and offering her books that he thinks will help her. As she becomes acquainted with the family, Emily senses buried secrets that have driven a wedge between some of its members. She can’t help but meddle in the hopes that she can fix things. Yet not everyone wants her to fix their lives.

Having read Katherine’s other novels, I started this one wondering which classic novel would be the base for the theme. The further I read, the more I saw resemblances between Emily and Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s Emma. I don’t think Emily was as self-centered as Emma, but she definitely had the match-maker, meddlesome quality. It was a little annoying at times, but I started to feel sorry for her, knowing that she felt like she had to fix everything all the time.

I really liked the Italian setting of this book, as well as Ben’s family. They were so life-like and diverse; it really set this book apart from Katherine’s other novels. The Vassallos were an imperfect family, but underneath all they’d been through, they still loved each other. Lucio was a sweet character; he loved everyone and really helped people to see things in new perspectives. He offered the perfect balance for Emily as she tried to settle into life in Italy, countering the anger that Donata didn’t try to hide. And the descriptions of Italy and the food were great; it was like a vacation in a book.

 Overall, A Portrait of Emily Price was a nice book, full of life with a beautiful setting. Fans of romance mixed with the arts, culture, and travel will love this book.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.