Member Reviews

"The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West" by Sara Ackerman is a compelling tale that intertwines the lives of two remarkable women, Olivia West and Wren Summers, across six decades. Olivia, a bold pilot in 1927, defies the gender norms of her time by participating in the perilous Dole Air Race. Her story of determination and bravery is a vivid portrayal of the challenges faced by female aviators in the early 20th century. Fast forward to 1987, Wren Summers uncovers her great-uncle's legacy and Olivia's forgotten story, leading her on a journey of self-discovery and historical revelation.

Ackerman skillfully blends adventure, history, and mystery, creating an immersive narrative that celebrates the spirit of exploration and the enduring strength of women. The novel's rich historical backdrop and dynamic characters make it a captivating read, offering insight into a pivotal era of aviation history while exploring themes of resilience, identity, and the unbreakable connections that tie the past to the present. "The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West" is an engaging and heartwarming story that pays homage to the unsung heroines of aviation and the timeless pursuit of dreams.

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The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West, by Sara Ackerman, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience! Told in two timelines, it is the story of a female aviator in 1927 and a floundering young woman in 1987. Both stories are set primarily in Hawaii, and the lush landscape of the islands is vividly described. Although both timelines are compelling, the 1927 story is the heart of the novel, providing color, history, and suspense. There were a few moments when the switch to 1989 almost hurt! Nonetheless, I enjoyed both stories and the way in which they were woven together. Thank you to Harlequin Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital ARC. It is my pleasure to highly recommend!

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In 1927 James Dole, the pineapple magnate, announced a transatlantic air race from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. It would be a treacherous undertaking, but with a prize of $25,000 to the winner and $10,000 to second place, many were onboard. Ackerman has written an historical fiction account of this race, called the Dole Derby. Written in dual timelines, she takes the reader along on the arduous journey. By race day there were only eight planes that took off as tragedy had already struck before race day. Eight planes, but who would win? Eight planes, but how many made it to Honolulu? How many lives were lost? The second timeline takes place in 1987, when down and out Wren Summers, inherits a dilapidated old barn on her family’s acreage in Kona. There she finds the remains of an old aircraft, not knowing that as she strives to find out its history, she’s about to change her own. This book was completely engrossing from start to finish. Ackerman’s meticulous research comes across on each page as she tells us a story about a bit of history that was new to me. Well done! Thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

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Sara Ackerman, the author of “The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West, has written a memorable and thought provoking novel. The author usually writes about World War Two, and Hawaii, and in this book, Sara Ackerman steps away from that time period and uses two time periods, that ultimately converge: 1927 and 1987. This story is inspired by historical facts, and the genres are Historical Fiction, and Fiction. There is also Romance and Adventure.

In 1927, Olivia, “Livy”West, has always been obsessed with flying an airplane, and the sea. Olivia is quite observant of impending weather disasters, and seems to have an internal compass, when she is up in the air. Olivia is the only woman that actually flies in a great race across the Pacific. Because of the times, a man has to be the pilot, and she would have to be the assistant. Felix, the pilot gets ills and Olivia does much of the flying, but no one can know at this time. There is some talk of sabotage and some people and planes do not make it. Olivia does see a former “friend” that she was involved with that hurt her. The importance of winning the race is not only for the cash prize, but for the recognition, honor, and pride.

In 1987, Wren Summers discovers that she has inherited a barn and lots of land in a remote part of the Big Island from an aunt that Wren didn’t know well. At first, Wren is overwhelmed and thinks of selling it. She has no money. Then Wren meets a neighbor and they discover something special in the barn, that will change her life forever. Wren gets a job at a home for older retired adults, and discusses her family with them. Wren is not familiar with her father’s side of the family.

Sara Ackerman weaves the stories and timelines together effortlessly. I love the way the author vividly describes the scenery, landscape, animals, birds, and characters. I appreciate the theme that Women can do anything they really are determined to. The women characters show strength and courage despite obstacles. I highly recommend this memorable book to others.

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I loved this book! As the author mentions in her very insightful note, this is her first non World War 2 book and I for one hope she continues to explore little known historical events, such as the Dole Air Race chronicled in this novel. The dual time lines moved the story forward while relating the history to current day Hawaii. Ms Ackermann has done her homework and presents a great story based in aviation history which she liberally adjusts to meet her story telling. I love the strong female characters: Livy and Wren. This book really has everything - great plot, wonderful location, romance, action, suspense and it’s not totally predictable. The ending came a bit fast for this reader’s taste but it would be a wonderful movie finale! Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the early read. I will definitely be referring others to this book.

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Sara Ackerman knows how to write interesting and involving dual time period fiction. Her love of Hawaii is a delightful aspect of her books.

This title about early flight and the plight of women in a “man’s world” was a page turning read. The sense of setting, the feeling of flight, the interest that I had for the protagonist in this earlier time period, all kept me turning the pages.

I also enjoyed the more modern time setting and how the two time periods converged. Anyone who likes historical fiction should give this title, based on truth, a look.

Many thanks to the team at HTP and NetGalley for this book and the spot on the blog tour. All opinions are my own.

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This is a wonderful story for fans of female historical fiction.
The story is duel timeline of 1927 and then 1987.
What a interesting journey we are taken on with reading The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West.
The story is based on real events which makes it even more intriguing.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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It's just after midnight and I am up well past my bedtime in order to finish this lovely story about two fiercely strong women told in alternating time lines and point of view. Olivia is a bold and persistent woman of the 1920s that won't take no for an answer when it comes to her dreams of flying the skies like a bird. 60 years in the future, Wren is an independent woman in her own path of finding belonging and happiness. While the ending was perhaps a bit predictable, it kept my eyes glued to the page and flying through to the end to see where Olivia and Wren ended up.

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I love stories about remarkable women and this one was fantastic. Fast-paced, full of adventure, fun and inspiring. A story about survival, determination, strenght and love. Simply captivating!

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Ackerman tells the story of an (imaginary) female aviator in the (historical) Dole Air Race of 1927. Written from the perspective of Olivia West in 1927, and Wren Summer in the 1980's, we have a chance to reflect on how much has changed and what hasn't in the intervening 50 years. There is great scene setting at the start of the race on the airfields of California where West learns to fly, and then in Hawaii at the end of the race and in the ensuing years. Both Olivia and Wren are interesting characters with romance interests that are pleasing but not center stage.

I look forward to more from this author.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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3.25- Being a huge fan of historical fiction I always get excited when a book of that genre takes place outside of WW2. Because of that. And having just finished The Aviator’s Wife, I was really looking forward to reading this one.
In 1927, Olivia West is a rarity at the air field in San Diego since she is the only female pilot amongst all the men. Becoming of her growing up on her father’s fishing boat, she also processes a keen sense of the weather and is a stellar navigator. When she hears that James Dole is hosting an air race from Oakland, CA to Maui with prizes for first and second places, she jumps to enter. The only problem is as a woman she isn’t allowed to pilot a plane in the race and none of the male pilots will even consider her, except for her ex-boyfriend with whom she refuses to fly. When Felix Harding hears she’s a navigator, he invites her to fly with him and while she has her doubts, she agrees. In 1988 on the island of Oahu, Wren Summers’ life is not going as planned. She’s lost her boyfriend, her apartment, and her job all at once and she’s not sure where she’s meant to start picking up the pieces. When she gets a phone call that an obscure relative of her father’s on Hawai’i (The Big Island) has left her land and a barn, she figures that’s a good place to start. Never having known her father or any of his relatives, Wren is clueless as to why she’s been left this and what it all means, but she moves herself to The Big Island just the same. She’s intrigued when she finds two very old planes in the barn and goes on a mission to find out who this relative is and why the planes were left to her.
While I enjoyed parts of this book, I wasn’t as wowed as I was hoping to be. I loved the parts of Olivia and Felix flying over the Pacific. Sara Ackerman’s writing had my heart in my mouth and kept me at the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, the rest of it was just meh. I didn’t really care for Wren’s storyline until the end and I felt like it wasn’t needed at all. This book could have been told solely in Olivia’s timeline.
I love how it was based on the real event of The Dole Derby. I had never heard of this before even though this was the event that led to flights to Hawaii becoming a thing. I went down the Google rabbit hole learning about this race and the entrants and it truly is fascinating. I greatly appreciated that while Felix, Olivia, and their plane are fictional, they represent real people who took part in the race.
While I wasn’t 100% happy with this I am glad I read it. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for an advanced copy of this. The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West hit the shelves on February 6th.

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Solid Dual Timeline Tale Featuring Unique And Unexplored Moment In History. This particular tale was inspired by and set within a real world event in the early days of human flight, back in the years before intercontinental air travel had become trivial and long before the era of GPS. A time when doing something as routine - in 2024 - as flying from SFO (San Francisco, California) to HNL (Honolulu, Hawaii) was so fraught with danger that not everyone made it, for a variety of reasons. A time when women had only recently won the right to vote in the United States and were still searching for any modicum of equality in the work force. A time when Hawaii itself was still a US territory governed by the US military more as a forward operating base than as an actual place to live. Within this world, we find a female who will do whatever it takes to become a pilot, and not just any pilot - the *best* pilot anywhere near her, in the capacities she can fly in at all. Here we get much of the excitement and wonder of the book.

Decades later, in the other timeline, her exploits have long been forgotten - indeed, her own contributions were never actually known, thus forming the core mystery of the book. Stumbling into the mystery we get another much more modern woman, currently quite down on her luck. Taking a last ditch *now routine* flight from California to Hawaii, she discovers a land she had forgotten and a particular piece of it she had never known - and within that piece, the mystery begins. Will this modern woman find her peace? Did the earlier woman ever find hers? What has happened to the earlier woman? What will happen to the newer woman?

All this and so much more... in this pulse pounding emotional rollercoaster of a tale.

Very much recommended.

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This was an interesting enjoyable historical fiction with dual timelines. I enjoyed learning about the Dole Derby and the important accomplishments of Olivia West. However I think the dual timelines came together too close to the ending forcing a lot of unnecessary filler in between. I liked it, didn't love it but its worth a read if you're so inclined. My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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If you're someone who was always interested in Amelia Earhart or the early days of flying–especially the early days of women flying–then this is going to be a book you're going to want to be sure to check out. Of course, you'll also still probably enjoy the book if you just like well-written historical fiction with a wonderful protagonist and a compelling narrative. Sara Ackerman has crafted a compelling historical fiction story with some characters that really leapt off the page and grabbed me and I had such a fun time with this story. I loved learning more about this period of time and found the setting really excellently crafted. If you're at all a fan of historical fiction or aviation history or anything of that nature, then I'd highly recommend this one.

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Thank you, NetGalley for this free review copy. This was my first Sara Ackerman book, but it will not be my last. I really enjoy when authors find real historical events that are not well known and bring them to light with a tie to present times in a fiction novel. It teaches readers a bit about really awesome characters (usually women or those of color) who did amazing things and were overlooked because of the time period. Sara Ackerman did an a fantastic job with this book and a little know female navigator and race unknown in history. I’m looking forward to reading some of her past novels to see what else she has written about amazing people that history has overlooked.

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I’ll never turn down a book that tells the unknown story of a strong female figure in history! While Olivia West is not a real person, her character is modeled after the many early female aviators whose stories were never told. There are two timelines in this book and I appreciated how both women were brave in their own ways. Add this to your TBR!

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Having recently finished “The Unchartered Flight of Olivia West” by Sara Ackerman, I am happy to have had the chance to read the Advanced Reader’s Edition e-copy; thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing, MIRA.

This dual timeline historical novel set in the 1920's (Olivia) and 1980's (Wren) was fascinating for completely different reasons. Although the flight from California to Hawaii during the Dole Air Race competition portrayed intense drama, and was filled with aeronautical information and challenges of the times, I most enjoyed the story when it flipped to Wren's moments and artistic creations. Her inheritance of property and the mystery of her unknown family kept me interested in what she would discover next. Even though I sensed the big reveal before it happened, I enjoyed every moment that led Wren to uncovering all the mysteries of her own history, spiders and all.

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This is a well written, enjoyable dual timeline historical fiction novel. In 1927 Olivia West wants to fly. And specifically she wants to fly in the ill conceived Dole air race from Oakland to Honolulu. In 1987 Wren is tired of her life and smarting from being dumped by her fiancé when she inherits the property of a heretofore unknown great aunt. How these two women lives intersect is the magic ingredient of Ackerman’s well-crafted novel. Highly recommend for fans of women’s historical fiction.

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4.5 Stars

The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is the page-turning story of a female aviator who embarks on a daring air race from California to Hawaii in 1927. Olivia is adventurous in spirit and has a passion for flying. When she hears about the Dole Air Race, she is determined to qualify and participate. In a male-dominated field, this requires a great deal of strategizing and cleverness. In a 1987 dual timeline, Wren Summers inherits a remote piece of land on the Big Island. She plans on selling it and living on the money. However, she discovers a piece of aviation history in the barn that causes her to embark on a quest to uncover Olivia’s story.

Diving into a piece of history is always a benefit of reading well-researched historical fiction. The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is the page-turning story of a female aviator who enters a daring air race from California to Hawaii in 1927. At a time when some pilots built their planes, the flight from the West Coast to Hawaii was twenty-seven hours long! Olivia is adventurous in spirit and loves to fly. When she hears about the Dole Air Race, she is determined to qualify and participate. In a male-dominated field, this requires a great deal of persistence and determination. Olivia can fly planes but she couldn’t break into this particular male-dominated race. She ended up as a navigator. In 1927, navigators (and pilots) relied on maps, weather patterns, a compass, stars, guts, and a great deal of luck. Fortunately, Olivia could fly as well as navigate because she had to fly the plane in this race when the pilot was unable to. In the real historical event (and in this story), only two of the planes made it from California to Hawaii. Some were lost and some were forced to turn back (or never made it off the runway).

I enjoy a dual-timeline story, but often I tend to be more engaged in one over the other….and it’s usually the past timeline that is most compelling. In this story, both timelines are good but, in my opinion, the 1927 timeline is most appealing. First, the race itself is tense and risky. Whenever the story switched to the 1987 timeline, I was eager to return to 1927 to find out how Olivia fared. The 1987 timeline (set in Hawaii) could be considered women’s fiction. While enjoyable, it was slower-paced (in comparison) and it took me longer to connect with the characters. The two timelines do connect in the end in surprising and satisfying ways.

Olivia is an imagined character in the very real and historic Dole Air Race of 1927. She is high-spirited, adventurous, and loves to fly. When she hears about the Dole Air Race, she is determined to qualify and participate. In a male-dominated field, this requires a great deal of courage and negotiating. The best she’s able to do is to land a position as a navigator. She’ll take it because she’ll do anything to fly. Fortunately, she can also fly because she needs to take a turn at the controls when the pilot is incapacitated. The story is historically interesting in many ways from the description of the planes to the flight itself to the risky race to the male-dominated field. Olivia is determined, clever, passionate, trailblazing, spunky, and brave. You will enjoy this likable, unforgettable, and inspirational character.

Thoughtful themes include defying the odds, going after what you want, trailblazing, starting over, and friendship.

If you are looking for a histic/women’s fiction mashup, Sara Ackerman does this well! A side of romance is usually an element in Sara Ackerman’s stories. The romances never overwhelm the story because there is always other substantial content. In this story, I enjoyed the slow-burn potential romance mixed with a spirit of competition in the 1927 timeline more than the insta-love of the 1987 timeline. I appreciate Ackerman for her closed-door romances.

Sara Ackerman is on my auto-buy author list, and I’m an Ackerman completist. Her histfic stories are set in Hawaii (what’s not to love?!). They are well-researched histfic and contain elements of friendship, women supporting women, thoughtful themes, and sweet romance. The stories are filled with vivid descriptive details and memorable characters. I can recommend them to anyone. Although I’ve enjoyed them all, my very favorite is Radar Girls.

I can enthusiastically recommend any of Sara Ackerman’s books and The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is no exception. Fans of histfic/women’s fiction, aviation history, and inspiring characters will enjoy this one!

Welcome to my stop on the HTP Winter 2024 Blog Tour for The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West. Thanks #NetGalley @HTPBooks for a complimentary e ARC of #TheUnchartedFlightOfOliviaWest upon my request. All opinions are my own.

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I loved this book about the Dole Derby! I had never heard of this historic race before so I was curious to find out more about it. The overall story was about taking risks and getting a second chance at love. It jumped back and forth between 1927 and 1987 with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger. As I read I kept asking myself when the two times lines would connect. I was pleasantly surprised at how they connected. I loved the characters! Livy was so determined to make it across the Pacific to Hawaii to prove she was a worthy opponent. Wren was such a wild card but also determined to make her place in the wilds of the Big Island. I loved the surprise Wren gave to Livy at the end. It was the perfect ending! Book discussion questions are included. This would be a great pick for Historical Fiction fans or book clubs looking for a new historical event!

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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