Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman

The Lieutenant’s Nurse
By: Sara Ackerman
Narrated by: Lauren Ezzo

Book Cover

Published: March 2019
Published by: Harlequin Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I was sent a copy of Sara Ackerman’s The Lieutenant’s Nurse, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. However I wasn’t able to read the eBook, so this is my review of the Audiobook.

Synopsis

November, 1941. She’s never even seen the ocean before, but Eva Cassidy has her reasons for making the crossing to Hawaii, and they run a lot deeper than escaping a harsh Michigan winter. Newly enlisted as an Army Corps nurse, Eva is stunned by the splendor she experiences aboard the steamship SS Lurline; even more so by Lt. Clark Spencer, a man she is drawn to but who clearly has secrets of his own. But Eva’s past—and the future she’s trying to create—means that she’s not free to follow her heart. Clark is a navy intelligence officer, and he warns her that the United States won’t be able to hold off joining the war for long, but nothing can prepare them for the surprise attack that will change the world they know.
In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Eva and her fellow nurses band together for the immense duty of keeping the American wounded alive. And the danger that finds Eva threatens everything she holds dear. Amid the chaos and heartbreak, Eva will have to decide whom to trust and how far she will go to protect those she loves.
Set in the vibrant tropical surroundings of the Pacific, The Lieutenant’s Nurse is an evocative, emotional WWII story of love, friendship and the resilient spirit of the heroic nurses of Pearl Harbor.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Army Corps nurse Eva Cassidy is eager to get away from a difficult situation in her home state of Michigan and embarks on a journey to her assigned station in Hawaii. While aboard the S.S. Lurline, she befriends a Lt. Spencer and becomes accidentally privy to some classified information. However, it isn’t long after they arrive in paradise that the unimaginable happens; Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese.

I have been looking for a historical fiction set in Pearl Harbor for quite some time. When I read the synopsis for The Lieutenants Nurse, I jumped at the change to add it to my TBR list.

Not only was the island setting absolutely beautiful, but I really enjoyed Eva’s trip aboard the steamship as well.

Although I didn’t have any particular issued with the narration of this novel, at times my interest in listening to it waned and I found myself wishing I could turn to a physical copy or eBook version to read.

My final impression of The Lieutenants Nurse was that it was interesting and at times fast paced. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction with romance.

Books Hauls · TBR

End of Summer Book Haul

Capping off the summer season with one last book haul. Here is what I added to my collection.

From Audible:

From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Ghrol
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for sending me the following ARCS.

The Secrets of Latimer House by Jules Wake
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
By: Dawnie Walton

Book Cover

Published: March 2021
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Format Read: eBook, Kindle, ARC, NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.

My Thoughts

Like many other readers, I was intrigued to read The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, after seeing it being compared to Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Like that book, Dawnie Walton tells this story in an interview format. However where Daisy Jones and the Six focuses on emotional lyrics, Opal and Nev explores more of a social justice point of view.

While I don’t think that the music this unlikely pair would have released would have been my cup of tea, I could definitely appreciate how they would have made an impression with their originality. Opal especially was a strong character, although she wasn’t perfect. I liked how she became a leader for those who were seen as different and not accepted by society.

Author Dawnie Walton did not shy away from tackling difficult topics including; feminism and racial injustices. I would recommend it to readers who are looking for an impactful book that explores those topics.

Challenges · Currently Reading · TBR

TBR: Backlist Catch-up

Note: I have been trying to use my Instagram more for book posts, so the following is one I shared a couple of weeks ago. If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you can find me at this link: Melissa Lee Spurrell (@melissaleesredhousereviews) • Instagram photos and videos

Additional Note: I can never tell if I’m correctly inserting IG photos onto my blog posts. If you are seeing this, could you comment below if you are able to see the image. Thank you! Happy reading.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: The Missing Potty

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Forgive me if this topic is TMI for anyone reading this post, but today we are going to talk about that time in every toddlers life where its time to crack down on potty training. That time is upon us in my household and I am hoping that some fun picture books about the topic will help to encourage Charlie in this endeavor. Today I’d like to share Anita Bijsterbosch’s The Missing Potty.

The Missing Potty
By: Anita Bijsterbosch

The Missing Potty
Source: Barnes & Nobel

To be Published: May 2021
Published by: Clavis
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Missing Potty by Anita Bijsterbosch, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A happy book to help toddlers with potty training, with surprising flaps! For toddlers ages 30 months and up.
Bunny loves her potty. She likes to sit on it all the time. But one day, Bunny can’t find it. And Bunny really needs to go potty! What will she do now? She can’t hold it anymore! Will using the real potty be as scary as it looks?

Source: Barnes & Nobel

My Thoughts

While perusing NetGalley one day I came across Anita Bijesterbosch’s The Missing Potty and it couldn’t have caught my eye at a better time. As the mother of a very stubborn toddler, I am looking for any way to encourage my little boy to ditch the diapers. The fact that this picture book follows his favourite animal; a bunny, made me jump at the chance to share this with him.

As Bunny goes around searching for her potty at the houses of her friends, she asks “Are you using the potty?” and readers are asked to open a flap to see who is there. Although this is a cute idea to show children that they aren’t the only one who has to go, I think that this might give them the idea that they can barge in on anyone using the facilities. However I liked that Bunny’s friends encourage her to use the toilet instead because as they say in the story “You can never lose a real potty.”

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: January 2021

Total Books Read in January: 4
Total Books Read in 2021: 4

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We Came Here to Shine
By: Susie Orman Schnall

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Note: I was sent a copy of Susie Orman Schnall’s We Came Here to Shine, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Cheerleaders
By: Kara Thomas

Genre: YA Lit, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

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Double-Dare O’Toole
By: Constance C. Greene

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: 2/5

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64th Man
By: Bryan Tucker

Genre: Audiobook, Audible Original, Humor, Sports fiction
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 4
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

We Came Here to Shine
By: Susie Orman Schnall

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Published: June 2020
Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Susie Orman Schnall’s We Came Here to Shine, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

At the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two ambitious young women—a down-on-her-luck actress and an aspiring journalist—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of possibility and find out what they are truly made of during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential…
Gorgeous Vivi is about to begin filming her first starring role in a Hollywood picture when the studio head ships her off to New York as a favor to a friend. She’s assigned the leading role in the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair, a fate she believes will destroy her film career. If she performs well, she’ll have another chance at stardom, but with everything working against her, will her summer lead to opportunity or failure?
Plucky Max dreams of becoming a serious journalist, but when her job at the New York Times doesn’t pan out, she finds herself begrudgingly working for the daily paper of the World’s Fair. As her ideas are continually overlooked by her male counterparts and her career prospects are put in jeopardy, Max must risk everything to change the course of her life.
When Max and Vivi’s worlds collide, they forge an enduring friendship. One that teaches them to go after what matters most during the most meaningful summer of their lives.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

The 1939 World’s Fair was held in New York City and what a spectacle it was! When the grand plans for two young women fall through, they both find themselves reluctantly immersed in the festivities. Max, a N.Y.U, journalism student, lost out on her dream internship and is assigned to work at the fair newspaper. Meanwhile Vivi, a budding Hollywood starlet is passed over for a leading role in a film and is sent to New York City to preform in the Aquacade production. We Came Here to Shine explores sexism in the publication and show businesses. Both women struggle to advance their careers that are being ruled by the iron fists of their male superiors.

The theme for the fair was “The World of Tomorrow”, which is the perfect fit for the theme of the novel, as both Max and Vivi were working towards their future careers and successes.

The descriptions of the exhibits, attractions and concessionaires made me wish I could have experienced the fair myself. And the Aquacade show alone sounded spectacular! The newspaper articles at the end of Max’s chapters helped to assist in the world building and describe the state of the world (America specifically) as it hovers between the Great Depression and World War II.

We Came Here to Shine hooked me immediately and I really enjoyed a behind the scenes look at the two industries. I also cheered our heroines along as they stood up for themselves. However, I found some inconsistencies in the writing tense. The individual chapters felt more strong to me than those that followed both Max and Vivi at the same time. I also felt that too much foreshadowing was used, which in turn slightly dulled those moments for me when they were revealed.

Aside from the minor points I mentioned above, We Came Here to Shine tells an important story of women’s equality and friendship. I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy the historical fiction genre.

Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: November 2020

Total Books Read in November: 3
Total Books Read in 2020: 40

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A Scandal in Bohemia
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, 11)
By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet

Genre: Middle Grade, Adapted Classics, Classics, Mystery, Series
Rating: 3/5
My Review

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Conviction
By: Denise Mina

Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Audiobook, Audible
Rating: 3/5

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The Christmas Pact
By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Genre: Romance, Audiobook, Novella, Contemporary, Novella, Short Story
Rating: 5/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 3
Total Number of Fiction: 3
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 0
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
2

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: A Scandal in Bohemia (The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 11)

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Scandal in Bohemia by Stephanie Baudet, from the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

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A Scandal in Bohemia
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, 11)

By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet
Illustrated by: Adrianna Bellucci

Published: March 2020
Published by: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Net Galley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adaptation, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery, Series

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

About Sweet Cherry Easy Classics: From Shakespeare to Austen, Sweet Cherry Easy Classics adapts classic literature into stories for children, introducing these timeless tales to a new generation. All titles in the series are leveled for classroom use, including GRLs. The books target early readers ages 6-8, including early school-age children looking for exciting stories, as well as reluctant readers. Popular books in the series include Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol and Othello.

At quarter to eight o’clock tonight a gentleman will call. He would like to ask you about a very important matter. Do not think it odd if your visitor wears a mask.

When Sherlock Holmes is asked for help by a powerful yet dim king, it seems that he cannot refuse. But the detective has no idea that this case will bring him up against a woman just as clever, cunning and quick as he is. Has Holmes finally met his match?

My Thoughts

A Scandal in Bohemia is a mystery where our favourite fictional detective may have met his match. This is the second book I have read and reviewed in this collection. I found this installment had less of the pictures and historical definitions geared toward the target audience than the first book did. However I did feel that the premise of a Scandal in Bohemia was more simple than that of a Study in Scarlet. Still I feel that the reveal was quite clever. I recommend the Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection to younger readers who are interested in a lighter introduction to classic literature. I look forward to going back to the previous 10 books in the series that I have yet to read.

Additional Notes:

  1. A Study in Scarlet (Book 1)
Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Land Beneath Us (Sunrise at Normandy, 3) by Sarah Sundin

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The Land Beneath Us
(Sunrise at Normany, 3)
By: Sarah Sundin
Read by: Sarah Zimmerman

Published: February 2020
Published by: Tantor Audio
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Trilogy, Series

Rating: 5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Sarah Sundin’s The Land Beneath Us, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the U.S. Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for—fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family—the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.After Clay saves Leah’s life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-Day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay’s recurring dream comes true?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series follows three brothers fighting for their country in three different branches of the armed forces. In the first two books, readers follow naval officer Wyatt and pilot Adler. Now in this final installment in the series we follow ranger Clay.

This trilogy was consistently enjoyable and very well researched. I learned so much about the roles each branch played in the Normandy invasion. Not only did it follow the Paxton brothers, but their romantic interests and their individual roles they took on for the war effort.

While it is clear that I enjoyed all the books in this series, it was this one; The Land Beneath Us, that was my favourite. Like the others, a common theme was forgiveness and acceptance. The plot moves along quickly and I flew through the pages.

I appreciated how the author showed that despite all the tragedies that come with war, there are still other important issues within societies that are still relevant. Sarah Sundin told this through her character Leah and her involvement at a local orphanage.

This is the only book in the series that I listened to in audio format and thought that Sarah Zimmerman’s narration did the characters justice.

Although I would advise caution to those sensitive to triggers, I would highly recommend The Land Beneath Us and the entire Sunrise at Normandy series.

Additional Notes

Sunrise at Normandy Series

1. The Sea Before Us

2. The Sky Above Us