Saturday, February 1, 2020

Book Review: Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

It all started with a trip to the library. A very long overdue trip to the library. Like, it's been over a year since I went in there, overdue. Hence, a perusal of all the adult fiction shelves was in order.

It was in the back that I found this particular novel, Wonderland Creek. I had, of course, heard about it through various bloggy friends - in particular Naomi from the blog of the same name. It had been on my TBR for quite some time.

So, I pick it up to read, carefully placing it in the stack that was growing in my arms.

And let's just say, to make the understatement of the year, that I didn't regret it one bit.


This book was really super good. I couldn't even really give a coherent introduction on my GR review. The prose was excellent - it engaged all the senses and it had an old-fashioned eloquence that could be described as "pert wittiness" rather than the snark that seems to be present in most modern novels. The protagonist's arc was rather drastic but super well done. The world-building of 1930s Kentucky was also quite stunning.

But what really impressed me about this novel was it's tastefulness of some really "adult" issues.

The first was post-partum depression. It's a phenomenon that is growing in recognition as mental health is explored more. Using a 1930s scope on it, Austin does a good job of not villifying the character, June Ann. There were times that June Ann had to leave her baby for a time in order to gain control over herself. Many people would see that as irresponsible, but Alice recognizes that it is something beyond that and fights to have other people visit June Ann and help her.

The second was the family feud. It seems a little stereotypical to have such a thing in a hillbilly atmosphere, but it does highlight how something as silly as money can really destroy communities and how important it is to build that community up.

The third was how Alice and Ike's relationship was handled. Many really conservative readers will be a little off-put by how kissy it seems to be, and to be frank, there were some points where I did feel uncomfortable. But, I feel that was the point. I've read a lot about the merits of hands-off courtship, and how copious amounts of physical affection can really skew judgement of a person...and I think this book shows that well. It's really difficult to write a romance without the physical desires and affection (which is why we've made the "mild kissing" exception to our rule), but there is a time and place to show some of the negative connotations of those lustful moments.

Now, to give a more review-like summary.....

What I liked:

- Alice. I wanted to shake her in the beginning because she was such a huge brat, but her character arc was super fantastic. Especially how she learned to wean herself off of technology (BE STILL, MY OLD-FASHIONED HEART).
- MISS LILLIE. She's one of my favorite characters.
- The tasteful manner in which post-partum depression, family feuds, and other complex adult issues were handled, as mentioned above.
- How Ike and Alice's relationship was handled, as mentioned above.
- how the book shows a little known chapter in Depression history (packhorse librarians). While I have issues with the New Deal and other welfare programs, this particular program is pretty unknown and deserves attention. I hadn't even heard of it, and I was a history major!

What I didn't like:

- I felt Mack kinda got the short end when it came to character development, especially in the romance department. I'll try not to be spoilery, but I felt like I was teased a lot when it comes to him. As much as I like slow-burn, this was a little too slow for me.
- Maggie....something about her arc's resolution seemed a little weak. I felt it was too quick too.
- The religious aspect was kinda glossed over, and what religious aspects were there felt....shallow almost. Disorganized too.

RW ratings:

Language: 5 stars.
Abuse: 4 stars. Family troubles, some "unmotherly" behaviors, and a whole lot of deceit going on.
Lust: 4 1/2 stars. A little kissy for my liking, but it was necessary I assure you. I don't normally say that, but that is a big lesson in this book and I absolutely respect the author for putting it in and doing it so tastefully.

In short, I would highly recommend Wonderland Creek to all readers of clean literature as a fun historical fiction novel that probes deep into the intellect and has a broad lesson of being charitable towards our neighbor.

It's been too long since we've heard from our book scouts! What good books have you been digging into lately? Tell me in the comments below! 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2019 Wrap-Up and RW Staff's Favorite Books

Greetings, Rebels!

Here it is, and new year and decade all in one in the year 2020. All of us are excited for the new adventures and challenges that we will come across. 2019 had quite a lot happening for all of us which is why we had a lack of posts. We are determined to strive past this, to rebel, and get more content for all of you readers.

Starting off we want to look back on all that we did in 2019.

We wrote 31 posts in 2019, here are the top 5 most viewed:

It's So Classic Blog Party: KICKOFF

To celebrate two years of Rebellious Writing we hosted the It's So Classic Blog Party which was a huge success! Click here to see all of the entries. We loved reading every one's posts about what classics mean to them.

Historical Fiction: 4 Things Writers Get Wrong

Our very own Catherine points out several assumptions that writers make when it comes to Historical Fiction, and how they are not accurate. Having studied this, she tells us how things really were.

How To Write A Stress-Free Serial For Your Blog

Keturah gives us her secrets for how to plan blog posts in a serial style. It can be so easy and helpful for later when you don't have a lot of time on your hands. You can still blog while do everything else you love!

Thoughts about Magic in YA: Featuring the Rebellious Writing Team

This was a post where all of the RW team contributed. We gave our individual thoughts on how well we deal with magic in books. It's so neat that we all have similarities and differences!

It's Totally Okay

Julian lets us know that we don't have to read books that are popular or be ashamed if we don't read them. We don't have to do a bunch of things that we sometimes feel pressured into doing. Reading is supposed to be fun!

Social Media Stats 

107 followers, 56,915 all-time views. 
63 likes, 72 followers.
303 followers, 416 tweets, 570 likes.
48 posts, 137 followers.
22 boards, 146 followers
74 members, 23 topics
48 subscribers, 2 videos

We thought it would be fun to share the RW staff's favorite books that we read in 2019 and would totally recommend:

Mossflower by Brian Jacques
This was my first foray into the popular Redwall series. I really liked the imagery, even if it was a standard fantasy plot. The talking animals were my favorite of all. The language and prose were also really beautiful.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
This was my first of Elizabeth Gaskell and I hope to read many more of hers! Her writing style is said to be a mix between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (two of my favorites) and that is accurate! The story pulled me in and I couldn’t put it down!

Muscle and a Shovel by Michael J. Shank
An inspiring true story that honestly made me cry because I related so much. The authenticity and truth in this swept me off my feet, not to mention I got really invested in the main character’s (the author’s) story of searching for the truth. Very inspiring!

Saving Beauty by Elizabeth D. Marie
I got the ebook and then let it sit...and then I finally picked it up and basically read it in one sitting because it was THAT GOOD. This Beauty and the Beast retelling might be a little dark and gritty, but still clean and absolutely adorable.

I mostly listened to a lot of audio books this year, and so very many good ones. I focuses on a few series and authors: How to Train Your Dragon, The Alloy of Law, Ender's Games books, and Jane Austen. Also, many non-fiction.
Favorites? I'm going to say the Alloy books (I loved how real the pain felt in those books), Sense and Sensibility (this book just satisfied my soul), the Ender sequels (each one dug deeper into the intricacies of human nature), and two non-fictions called The First Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and The Law by Frédéric Bastiat. All of these reads impacted my year and I felt I'd grown because of them

Thanks to all of you for sticking with us through this! We hope that your 2020 is filled with reading and writing wonderful books!