Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin {book review}

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin {book review}.   Take a walk on the back roads of eastern Kentucky with Alice Grace Ripley, an avid devourer of fiction.

Summary:  Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But the happily-ever-after life she’s planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real one. To top it off, Alice loses her beloved library job because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books. When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery–and especially romance–may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

My Reaction:  Library copy.

Just love Lynn Austin’s writing. Less than 50 pages and I feel like I’m there, in the story. Awesome!

And it was awesome, all the way to the end! Characters are fabulous. The main character, from whose point of view the entire book is written (big plus in my book), Alice (in Wonderland – ha!), captures your heart from page one. You will find yourself reacting to her often. I can’t speak to the setting, having never been to Kentucky except on the Interstate.

The story keeps hopping from one exciting event to the next. Never a dull moment. The writing is wonderful, squeaky clean (of course), and multiple layers.

But the thing that separates Lynn’s writing from that of others (though there are a few authors who do so), is the strong line of faith in the story line. It is not just in the characters. It permeates the story, as it should all of life. It is not idealistic and church-y, but down-to-earth and practical faith. Miss Lillie is indeed a wise woman.

My Rating:  4 stars  I highly recommend Wonderland Creek, and all of Lynn Austin’s books. Check out all my reviews of Lynn Austin’s books.

This review is also on Goodreads and Christianbook.com.

View all my Goodreads reviews

About the Author: 

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother (age 98), and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Eight of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

View the author’s website, her Facebook account, her Goodreads page,  her Twitter account, and her Pinterest account. You may wish to sign up for her occasional newsletter, as I did today, on her website.




Fresh From the Country by Miss Read {book review}

Fresh From the Country by Miss Read {book review}



Miss Read in this humorous and charming story draws us magically into the world of the primary school.

Anna Lacey, a young country girl, is given her first job in Greater London, and as she learns to cope with the challenges of her new life, we share with her the delights and pleasures of teaching “those dear, devilish, delicious, disarming, infuriating and exhausting creatures” who are her young pupils.


My Reaction:  Not your typical Miss Read read.

Country girl takes her first teaching post in a crowded city school, with its accompanying challenges.

Well written, but I miss the perspective of the Fairacre series, particularly the village pace of life.

My Goodreads Review:  Fresh from the Country by Miss Read
My rating:  3 stars

About the Author:  Dora Jessie Saint MBE née Shafe (born 17 April 1913), best known by the pen name Miss Read, was an English novelist, by profession a schoolmistress. Her pseudonym was derived from her mother’s maiden name. She began writing for several journals after World War II and worked as a scriptwriter for the BBC.

She wrote a series of novels from 1955 to 1996. Her work centred on two fictional English villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. The principal character in the Fairacre books, “Miss Read”, is an unmarried schoolteacher in a small village school, an acerbic and yet compassionate observer of village life. Miss Read’s novels are wry regional social comedies, laced with gentle humour and subtle social commentary. Miss Read is also a keen observer of nature and the changing seasons. In 1940 she married her now late husband, Douglas, a former headmaster. The couple have a daughter, Jill.

Her most direct influence is from Jane Austen, although her work also bears similarities to the social comedies of manners written in the 1920s and 1930s, and in particular the work of Barbara Pym. Miss Read’s work has influenced a number of writers in her own turn, including the American writer Jan Karon. The musician Enya has a track on her Watermark album named after the book Miss Clare Remembers, and one on her Shepherd Moons album named after No Holly for Miss Quinn.

In 1996 she retired. In 1998 she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to literature. She lived in Berkshire until her death in 2012, days before her 99th birthday.

For my reviews of her other books see 2015 Fiction Author Index.

View all my Goodreads reviews




Wings of A Dream by Anne Mateer {book review}

Wings of A Dream by Anne Mateer {book review} is a story deep in character, history, and faith (and yes, romance). This is one of my favorite authors.

Summary:  Debut Author Delivers Sweet Heartwarming Historical Fiction
Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family’s farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he’s the man she’s meant to marry.

While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother’s sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur’s training camp as God’s approval of her plans.

But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt’s death, Arthur’s indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebeka is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she’s always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

My Reaction:   I ‘met’ the author on Twitter and decided I should read one of her books, just to see if she was any good (smile), you know? Some day, I hope, you will be able to say the same of me.

I was a little nervous, although this is the second author to go through this process under my scrutiny (another smile). I’m pretty sure God knows what He is doing when He sets these meetings up (smile).

I loved the book! and I choose not to go into detail about the story. You can read the synopsis, you can read the book, and I promise you will not be disappointed.

If it looks straightforward, it is not. If it looks simple, it is not. If it looks like a million other stories, it is not.

The characters, the story, the spiritual aspect of the story, the descriptions, were all good. I was there in another time and place, experiencing what the point of view character went through. When I started reading and saw it was in the first person I thought I might not like it, but the author does a thorough job of sticking to the main character’s point of view, which more than made up for it.

My Rating:  4 stars  I highly recommend this book and author. It’s squeaky clean, some history, some romance, and lots of faith.

Read reviews of Wings of a Dream on Goodreads.

View all my Goodreads reviews.

About the Author:  While I have been writing for what feels like my whole life, I began seriously studying the craft in 2000. Since then I have completed five novels, had several pieces published in local periodicals, attended six writing conferences and managed to final in ACFW’s Genesis contest in 2006, 2008, and 2009. My first historical novel, Wings of a Dream, released in September 2011. My second, At Every Turn, is available now. But writing is only a piece of my life.

I am mostly just a woman trying to live her life in a manner pleasing to the Lord. That involves being a wife to Jeff and a mother to my three young adult children. Neither role has come easily, but both have stretched me, requiring me to press in closer to Jesus. And because of this, Jesus has taken an insecure, fearful, sometimes angry girl and is turning her into a more trusting, peaceful, grace-filled woman. At least some of the time. There is still such a long way to go! 

To learn more about the author and her books, visit her website, sign up for her newsletter, check out her Goodreads page, her Twitter account, Facebook page, and Pinterest boards. And read reviews of her books on Christianbook.com.

For my reviews of Anne’s other books see 2015 Fiction Author Index.