Cover Image: The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West

The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West

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Member Reviews

4+ stars

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” Amelia Earhart

My love for titles like West with the Night by Beryl Markham and Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead inspired me to pick up Sara Ackerman’s new release and boy am I glad I did. This new novel differs, in that most of the characters are fictional, but the life and death event anchoring the story is very real. On the heels of Charles Lindbergh’s successful trans-Atlantic flight, pineapple magnate James Dole ran a contest (The Dole Derby) with a huge cash prize. The pilot of the first fixed wing aircraft to fly from Oakland, California to Hawaii was the big winner. Ms. Ackerman creatively fills in the framework with fictional characters and a plot that had me reading this in a single sitting.

1920s California - Olivia, young and determined, is fighting against the male dominated aviation culture, but she has big dreams and big skills.

1980s Hawaii - Wren is a down-on-her-luck artist when a call from a local attorney’s office changes the trajectory of her future.

Some heartfelt romance and particularly stellar passages focusing on senior citizens had this reader welling up as the timelines converged. The author’s note is particularly well done and had me racing to the internet to investigate!

Many thanks to MIRA Books and Net Galley for the early copy in exchange for my honest review.

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I fell in love with Sara Ackerman's writing back in 2022 when I read The Codebreaker's Secret, and I've been meaning to read more of her work ever since. I admit this took longer than expected, but as soon as I first spotted The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West I knew that I was going to read this story first. It's no secret that I have a weak spot for WWII fiction, but there was just something about the blurb of this dual timeline story partly set in the 1920s that had me fully intrigued. And it turned out to be a more than solid piece of historical fiction indeed!

One of the things that I loved about Sara Ackerman's books is the Hawaiian setting, and it shows that the author has intimate knowledge of the islands. The descriptions were both thorough and vivid, and really made Hawaii come alive for me... And I do love a dose of armchair travel while I'm reading! I could also really appreciate the historical details incorporated into the plot, and while Olivia West herself was a fictional character, the race itself really did take place. This gave the story an air of authenticity and really took the plot to the next level for me.

The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West uses a dual timeline structure, where we switch between 1920-1927 with Olivia West's POV and 1987 with Wren's POV. Dual timelines can be tricky for me, because I tend to much prefer one timeline over the other... In this case, I did have a preference for Olivia's POV both because of the race and the fact that she was a female pilot fighting against prejudices and a male dominated industry. It took me a lot longer to properly warm up to Wren's POV, although things did improve drastically as soon as she settled in on the Big Island. Olivia's POV was more historical and adventure with only a small dose of romance, while Wren's POV was more romance and self discovery... I guess your reaction to the two POVs depends on what type of story you prefer.

I do have to say that I was surprised by the pace itself, which was a lot slower than expected especially with Olivia's POV. There was a lot of building up and not that much flying; I guess I expected a faster pace for a more adventure focused timeline. The pace in Wren's POV was also quite slow, although I guess that part of this feeling had to do with the fact that it took me a while to warm up to that timeline in the first place. Things did improve over time, and the final part was without doubt a lot more engaging. I especially loved learning more about Olivia and her journey, and the little mystery and romance in Wren's POV were a nice touch and brought everything together. I also loved the incorporation of Hawaiian words into the plot.

If you enjoy well written and more character driven dual timeline historical fiction, The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West is a great option. While the pace might be a bit on the slow side, there is also plenty of adventure along the way to make up for it and the Hawaiian setting is a bonus.

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I enjoy a powerful female lead story and who doesn't want to be a pilot? The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is a dual timeline story set in 1927 and 1987. Olivia (Livy) West and Wren Summers are the main characters.
In 1927, Olivia wants to be a pilot so bad that she takes odd jobs at a flight school in San Diego on the off chance she can train to be a pilot someday. When James Dole, the "Pineapple King", comes up with an idea for an air race from San Diego to Honolulu, The Dole Derby, Livy is determined. Although Livy wants to take part, she discovers that only men may register. As fate would have it, she then meets Felix Harding, the owner of a monoplane and Livy is chosen to be his navigator (even though her skills questionable).
In the 1987 timeline, Wren inherits land on the Big Island, HI. She plans to sell the place until she finds a barn on her land has a secret under a tarp. As she works to uncover the story of what happened to Olivia West, we also learn more about Wren.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a fun, defy the odds, adventure. If you enjoy reading about determined women who overcome adversity and they themselves set new examples for future young women, this book is for you too. For more reviews, please see my Insta books.before.sleep
Thank you NetGalley, Harlequin Publishing, and the author for the opportunity to read this book. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are solely my own.

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While this book started off slightly slow for me, by the 30% mark I was fully invested in both Olivia and Wren’s stories and didn’t want to put it down. The Dole derby is a fascinating snippet of history that I didn’t know anything about, and it was so fun to learn about. I really enjoyed the two main characters as well as the side characters. Highly recommend this book to any historical fiction reader!

Favourite Quote: “No one’s ever written a rulebook on feelings, as far as I know”.

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for the eARC of this book.

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Olivia West, also known as Livy, is a pilot and navigator in the 1920s. As a female, she isn't welcomed into the male dominated aviation industry. The story is told in dual timelines that alternate between Livy and Wren Summers. Wren has inherited a property in Hawaii on which she discovers two early airplanes. Eventually we learn how their stories collide. The story is loosely based on the real flight competition to fly from California to Hawaii sponsored by the Dole company. I had never heard of the competition before and this was a fun way to learn about something new in history. I enjoyed the story and the characters. The story is a good reminder of pursuing your dreams no matter what obstacles are in your way.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing, MIRA for a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Olivia West, who we come to know as Livy, is a fictionalized pioneer pilot and navigator in the late 1920s. She in love with the adventure and magic of planes and piloting. But as a woman, she isn’t welcomed into the male-dominated fraternity of aviators. A dual story line introduces us to Wren Summers, who inherits a property in Hawaii complete with two early airplanes. The stories go back and forth in time and both are compelling and even, sometimes, nail-bitingly suspenseful. The story is grounded in a real-life competition to fly from California to Hawaii sponsored by the Dole Company. It’s a lovely and often exciting story, told very effectively. I enjoyed the writing, the characters, the descriptive nature of the story and the author’s success in giving women pioneers their due acknowledgement. There’s even some romance for both Livy and Wren. Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for an advanced readers copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is a dual timeline historical novel about aviation pioneers. Shortly after Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in 1927, James Dole announces that he is sponsoring an air race from California to Hawaii - a dangerous journey of 2,400 miles over the Pacific that hasn't been done before. A groundbreaking, young female aviator, Olivia "Livy" West is determined to be one of the contestants in the Dole Air Race (the "Dole Derby") but jumps at the opportunity to join another pilot as his navigator when she can't find a sponsor willing to back a female pilot. The group of pilots who are competing for the prize includes Heath Hazeltine who taught Olivia to fly and broke her heart when he left town a few years earlier without looking back.

In the second 1987 timeline, Wren Summers is barely scraping by in Honolulu when she learns that she has inherited a remote property on the Big Island from a great-aunt that she hardly knew. At first she plans to sell as quickly as possible but finds she's drawn to the property and the opportunity to learn about her family history with some help from a local man. The connection between the two timelines is not fully understood until near the end of the book.

I have enjoyed several of Sara Ackerman's historical fiction novels and was anticipating this one as it is the first that isn't about World War II. Ackerman is an excellent storyteller and her books are all well-researched and feature strong female characters who are often ahead of their time and are set in the beautiful Hawaiian islands. Livy West in this novel is a fantastic character who you can't help but love and root for!

The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is inspired by real events - the Dole Air Race was a tragic real event with 15 pilots entered in the competition but only 2 planes landing successfully in Hawaii - and the author does an excellent job weaving together the factual bits of the story with the fictionalized element. She explains in her author's note which parts are fact and which are fiction - Livy's story is fictionalized as there were no female contestants in the Dole Derby but she is representative of female aviators of the time. This is a fast-paced tale of adventure about determined women taking risks and pushing their limits with a little romance thrown in and a great feel-good ending - a fun read!

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for sending a digital ARC of this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

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I enjoyed the storyline of this book. Dual timelines that converge at the end. It is the story of a female pilot in the 20’s flying in the Dole Air Race and a woman in the 80’s that inherits property that includes two antique aircraft’. Oftentimes sweet and sometimes sad, this story is a great one to read when you have an afternoon at home with a cozy blanket and a hot cocoa.

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Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and Mira for the ARC on Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Recommended for fans of Historical fiction.

Written in dual timelines loosely based on the Dole Air Race in 1927 and later in 1987.

Livy (Olivia West) is a female pilot who enters as a navigator in the 1927 Dole Air Race what follows is adventure and tragedy.

Fast forward to 1987 and Wren discovers two abandoned airplanes in a remote barn on a Hawaiian property. What leads is her discovery of the Dole Air Race and her personal family history.

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This is a novel with dual timelines telling the story of two women, Livy a groundbreaking female aviator in 1927 and Wren, a young woman who has inherited a property in Hawaii from a great aunt in 1987.

Livy breaks barriers entering as a navigator in the Dole Derby (because she couldn’t enter as a pilot), an air race from California to Hawaii (which at that time was extremely dangerous). There is added love story between her and her flight instructor, who also ends up being another one of the contestants in the race. Wren and her new friend finds two old airplanes in the dilapidated barn on the property and wants to learn the history of them which leads her to learn about the Dole Derby and in time, her own history.

I really fell right into this story, ironically I read it the day my flight was cancelled and it kept me fully entertained while we figured out how to get home. I was rooting for all of the characters, I was engrossed in the story and I needed to know how it ended (although I felt there was a loose end that was not tied up). I knew nothing about the Dole Derby so I learned something new. Ackerman intertwined the stories well and I am now going to look at her backlist.

4.25 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing/MIRA for the ARC to review

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A story of determination, spunk, and bravery! A dual timeline that converges at the right moment.

It’s the 1920’s and Olivia West is a fearless pilot. She is determined to be part of the Dole Derby, an air race from California to Hawaii. Dominated and run by men, Olivia finds the will and grit to be a navigator for one of the pilots. What ensues is a harrowing journey to the Hawaiian islands.

In 1987, Wren Summers learned she had inherited property on the Big Island. What she finds in the dilapidated barn will ultimately intersect her story with Olivia’s.

Sara Ackerman is a great storyteller. From the first page, I was drawn into the story of Olivia and Wren. Both characters showed us how to be fearless in the face of adversity. The fact that this story is part fiction and part fact fascinates me.

I highly recommend this book. Pre-order today! This book will be published on February 6th. Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Trade Publishing, and the author for the e-ARC.

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*4.5 // Sara Ackerman can do no wrong in my book. I have read all of her backlist minus her debut so far and have enjoyed them all! She writes strong female characters and swoony men set in my home state of Hawai'i, with lush descriptions of the islands and colorful descriptions of the locals, pidgin (Hawaiian creole language of English), and the fruits !! Also, there are dogs in this one!!! I stayed up until 2am to finish the last 45% because I was hooked and could not put it down !

Timeline 1: Olivia West. What a woman. Even though she's totally fictional I want to meet her- to BE her! Her determination to follow through with a career field that was very against women pilots, her love for her parents, her cleverness and true grit... I loved every second of her story (welllll maybe not the parts where they almost died over the open ocean haha) and Livy's now made it to my top female characters <3

Timeline 2: Wren. Wow, she went through such character growth. I was fully invested in her storyline around 40% when the two timelines collided and loved her for sticking with the harder but more rewarding choice of taking the land she inherited (and some things she finds in a shed ;) that she had no idea how to care for. Also, Pono is goals <3 That is all :)

The ending totally got me in tears and it was the perfect conclusion! I did so much research on the Dole race after reading and wow, the courage of those brave men!

*I will be posting my review on Goodreads immediately and a post on Instagram (@maliastuckinabook) by this Friday (1/5).

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Thanks to MIRA and HTP for an advanced copy of The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West by Sara Ackerman.

I love Sara Ackerman's books and her newest one is no exception! I love books about female pilots so this book was right up my alley. I wanted more of the 1927 storyline and would have preferred if this book was more of Livy. The dual timeline kinda distracted from what I loved about this book.

I liked that this was one of my favorite kinda of historical fiction -- fictional characters in a real-life story of the Dole Air Race.

I will always recommend picking up a Sara Ackerman book!

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The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is a great dual timeline story about a female pilot competing in the contest sponsored by Dole to fly from California to Hawaii. While Olivia is a fictional character, she does face the challenges of a female pilot during the 1920s, and the flight contest (and most of the participants mentioned in the book) was very real. Olivia was a great balance of a woman determined to make a career out of what she was passionate about, while handling the obstacles she faced admirably. The later half of the story takes place in the late 1980s when Wren, a native Hawaiian who finds herself adrift after breaking up with her boyfriend, receives an inheritance of land on the big island that hides a few surprises-and offers her a fresh start. The two stories tie together in a way that feels believable, and just as importantly, provides a great feel good moment that concludes the book. If you like historical fiction that’s focused on unique events, read this book! A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and Net Galley for the chance to read and review this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
I love stories of early flight, especially involving women. I find it very interesting to read about how hard these early aviators had to work to become pilots and navigators. The first story line in this book involves early pilot Olivia West and takes place in 1927. She becomes very excited when she hears about the Dole Air Race. She cannot enter as a pilot because she is a woman, but she does obtain a position as a navigator.
The other timeline involves Wren Summers and takes place in 1987. When Wren inherits a remote piece of land on the Big Island, she discovers what remains of two airplanes. She and a friend set out to discover the history of the airplanes and how they got to the old barn.
I really liked the way the author brought the two story lines together. This book was a total win for me. Highly recommend!

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The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is an expertly written historical novel looking at not only aviation but also women’s impact on the history and the lengths people will go to follow their dreams. This is a must read and shows just how great of a storyteller Sara Ackerman is!

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I love how this historical fiction story manages to combine reality - the dole race actually existed - with fiction - the lovely female protagonist of this story is sadly a fiction. I really liked learning about some of the pioneer times in aviation and about Hawaii, through the lenses of Olivia in 1927 and a little bit through Wren in 1987 as she uncovers the story several years later.

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Have you ever wanted to do something so badly but the odds were stacked against you?

If so, you’ll enjoy reading about Livy who wanted to become a pilot at a time when this position wasn't open to women.

🛒What you’ll get:
Action-packed dual timeline features two inspiring women: a female aviator and a young woman who uncovers her buried history decades later

You may have heard of Charles Lindberg and his famous Atlantic crossing before and you may even know who James Dole is…but I bet you haven’t heard of the deadly air race across the Pacific from Oakland, CA to Honolulu, HI before! Inspired by Lindberg’s recent flight, the pineapple magnate decided to offer a prize to the first and second-place winners who could complete the 2,400-mile Pacific crossing. It was a tragic race. There were no female pilots in this 1927 race, just one female passenger, and this fact is what ignited the creative mind of Hawaiian author, Sara Ackerman.

This is where fact and fiction separate and Ackerman crafts an imaginary female navigator to star alongside real-life pilots and planes in this real-life tragic race for transpacific infamy. Only two planes (Dole birds) out of the fifteen entries landed in Honolulu both in real life and in this book - was Olivia West one of them?

I loved Olivia ‘Livy’ West’s character and could imagine this 16-year-old hanging around the hangar at Ryan Flying Company and School of Aviation hoping for a chance to find a pilot to take her for a ride. She would have grown up close to where The Spirit of St. Louis was manufactured and it would have fuelled her dreams. As she grew up, I began to see her adventurous side and loved how free-spirited she became. Running into Heath changed the trajectory of her life and I enjoyed filling in the backstory of her amazing legacy.

“I can be a pilot and a woman. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Wren Summers’ 1987 timeline was beautifully meshed with the 1920s timeline, and the full connection was revealed towards the end of the story. Both timelines spotlighted women who were pushing the limits of their time but were not celebrated or even recognized.

“Go after what you want as though your life depended on it.”

It was fun to see Volcano House featured as we have great memories of our time at the caldera and our meal on the veranda overlooking it.

This fantastic book about pushing limits, second chances and beautiful beginnings, the concept of hānai and featuring a real-life aviation challenge is one historical fiction lovers will want on their list.

I’m excited about Ackerman’s November 2024 release set on Maui and centered around big wave surfing as much as I’m looking forward to her June 2025 novel set on Oahu and centered around an unsolved mystery in Waikiki.

I was gifted this copy by Harlequine Trade Publishing, MIRA and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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I really enjoyed how good the historical elements worked with this universe, it had everything that I was hoping for from this description. I enjoyed learning about the event that it was based on and getting to know the people in it. I enjoyed that this had another perspective from Wren and worked overall. Sara Ackerman has a great style for this type of book and am glad I got to read this.

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The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West
By: Sara Ackerman
Review Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Why Was This Book “Just Ok”?
I found it very hard to connect to this story. It didn’t draw you in as quickly as other books by the same author. Some of the book was quite predictable. It was hard to keep engaged with the time jumps.

Do I still recommend it?
Yes. I like the storyline overall, and think it is still worth the read.


The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West was kindly provided as an ARC by Netgalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing. Thank you for allowing me to read this book!

Release Date: 2/6/24

Welcome back to another “Just Ok Wednesday”, where I discuss a book that has a lot of potential, and is still good, but isn’t the greatest book I have ever read.

I went into this book with such high hopes. I have read a few books by Sara Ackerman, and they were 5 Star Reads for me.

I had a really hard time connecting to this book. It took me forever to get into. The storyline itself is interesting enough, but I feel like it took to long to really get to the meat of the story.

With that being said, I did still enjoy this book, and I think others would like it as well. It’s another one of those books that is Historical Fiction, but isn’t about World War 2, and I know many people who prefer to read those.

#bookstagram #books #readingnow #boogiereadsbooks #fivekeyfeels #audiobooks #audiobook #historicalfiction #arcreview #netgalley#boogiesbulletpoints #justokwednesday #theunchartedflightofoliviawest #saraackerman

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