Review: The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman


My Interest

I love historical fiction and World War II is one of my favorite eras. A nurse at Pearl Harbor was just my kind of book!

The Story

Nurse Ava Cassidy leaves her Michigan home to serve in as an Army nurse at Pearl Harbor arriving in December 1941. On the ocean voyage to Hawaii she meets Navy Lt. Clark Spencer. The attraction is mutual and immediate though both adhere to the morals of the day. Ava and Clark both carry a hint of mystery in their pasts! But wait, there’s more! Clark comes into knowledge of the possibility of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor! Of course the old phrase “loose lips, sink ships” came instantly to mind and not for the reason you may think.

What I Liked

The attraction between Ava and Clark was believeable and I especially liked that the author remembered it was 1941 and not today–no one hopped into bed the first day.  Ava and Clark seemed like a good match for each other and I enjoyed their interactions, but things got a little far fetched at one point [no spoilers]. Both were intelligent and thoughtful with a good sense of ethics and morals without being preachy or goody-goody.

Although I have observations on this below, I enjoyed the story of the stray dog. She cheered up the men recovering from wounds sustained during the attack.  I really hope the dog’s story was based on a real dog.

Some Observations

The “thriller” aspect of the story wasn’t outlandish it just wasn’t that great. I thought Ava had INCREDIBLE presence of mind for one just off the boat in a new place. The author, though, is from Hawaii and at times seems to forget that Ava wasn’t. It doesn’t “ruin” the story in any way, just a bit much that Ava (for example)fears she will be thrown into the cane fields. Really? After a couple of days? And, she’s all local now and saying “cane” and not “sugar cane”? She’s from Michigan in an era when sugar cane would have been exotic.

Ava, apparently, also has a phenomenal memory for detail when listening to her new boyfriend talk! If a normal gal was gazing at her knew love interest, would she really remember the way to that safe spot? In a place she’s never been? Right after an attack with bombs dropping? Ava also sure had a lot of time to spend worrying about Clark or the dog in the middle of the Pearl Harbor casualty onslaught! She’s a nurse but has a lot of time for extracurriculars in a moment of national emergency! Finally, there is the dog’s Lassie-like help.

Modern Opinions

Ava was a bit too modern in many ways. Here thoughts on war were of today. America back then was isolationist–very different from today’s Give Peace A Chance attitudes that she seemed to have.  A therapy dog? Saving the whales? (Granted whaling had been outlawed many places by then, but still…). Concern for the fish in the ocean? A nurse, with a strict code of moral conduct to adhere, yet she gushes that she wants a beer? Clark being appreciative of Japanese culture, on the other hand, WAS believable but no spoilers! Modern views are a pet peeve of mine! These don’t ruin the story, the just make me roll my eyes.

Minor Historical Errors

There were minor historical errors–one of which should have been caught. Doctors didn’t do chest compressions in 1941. A minor medical error was that I.V. fluid was in glass bottles back then, not yet-to-be-invented plastic bags.

The story refers to Wheeler Air Force Base. Not in 1941! Wheeler was Wheeler Army Airfield back then. The Air Force wouldn’t be created until after the war–it was part of the Army in World War II.


I laughed at the mixed metaphor of Clark, a naval officer, being called the “good soldieer that he was.” No Navy man would stand for that!

Then there was the line “Brandy whined….” Yes, truly. Brandy, of course, was the dog.

My Verdict


In spite of my VERY picky-picky nature about historical fiction, this WAS a compelling story. I even hope there will be a sequel–I want to know what happens to this couple!

The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman

I listened to the audio version.


Top 5 Wednesday & Top Ten Tuesday: Fiction On My Spring 2019 TBR




I’ve a whole lot of historical fiction coming up! I am funny about fictionalized stories of real people. I get put-off by silly historical errors, modern figures of speech or modern use of profanity and modern day opinions put on historical figures where there is no documentation to show they believed it. ther things that puts me off are stilted conversations in which it is explained who everyone is and why things are done this way and “filling” up space with newspaper headlines. If you read historical fiction you should understand history! Why can’t they put a “Cast of Characters” and some family trees and things like books used to do?

I get irritated, too,  at how often rival publishers seem to come up with competing “versions” of books. Two recent biographies of Rosemary Kennedy or the two biographies of Kick Kennedy–that sort of thing.  Recently  A Well Behaved Woman and now American Duchess, both look at the Vanderbilts. I gave up on the audio of A Well Behaved Woman for one of my pet peeves (not saying which one).

From the ten books above, The Editor is the one that intrigues me the most because Jackie O was of my lifetime. She became a cultural icon the year before I was born.



Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Each week participants write a blog post or make a Yutube video post to share their take on the week’s topic. Why not join in?



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?

Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo



Thank you to Browsing For Books for bring this book to my attention.

The Story

Xiomara Batista, twin sister to brother Xavier (aka “Twin”) is growing up in Harlem under a very strict immigrant mother intent on her raising daughter in step with the manners and morals of the Dominican Republic and a very traditional view of Catholicism. X, however, is trying to obey her parents, but be a decent American teenager. She studies, does chores, but wants to date. She is in high school and that is the norm in her world. Her frustration, ready to destroy her, finds its “out” in poetry. She fills the notebook her brother gives her with her mighty words–“Metaphoric legos.”

My Thoughts

“We’re different, this poet and I. In looks, in body,
in background. But I don’t feel so different
when I listen to her. I feel heard.”
(The Poet X)

SLAM!! I LOVED this book! I was concerned when one blurb mentioned religion–“Here we go…” I thought. But, no! X is merely a normal teen, questioning things in a normal way. She butts up against her mother’s very traditional Catholic faith. [Yes, she does one thing that would appall very traditional Catholics, but it is not anything you’d ever immediately think of!] X works hard in school, she wants to do well.

She sets and enforces boundaries with the boy she likes out of respect both for herself and for her parents. She is not out to reject anything just to reject it. And, the Church? Interestingly, the Priest is a very good man and does his job well. This is not a tale of abuse of any kind. For once, it is not a miracle scholarship, nor a chance meeting with a celebrity nor atheletics that “saves” the teen, either. [No spoilers].

This book is SUPERB. Slam! Slam!! Slam!!!

My Experience

I have a child who also found a voice in poetry/rap lyrics. It helped so much. This quote IS my child at X’s age:

“…music videos…I fell in love with Nick Minaj, J Cole, with Drake and Kanye, with old school rappers like Jay Z and Nas and Eve. Every day I searched for new songs and it was like applying for asylum. I just needed someone to help me escape from all the silence. I just needed people saying words about all the things that hurt them. Maybe this is why Poppy quit listening to music. Because it can make your body want to rebel, to speak up and…music can become a bridge between you and a total stranger.”


The Rapper Nas by PH 2009. Copyright protected–do not copy.

I wish this book had been around in 2009. What a better year my child would have had!

My Verdict

4.5 Stars

And get the audio for this one–it is so worth it! The author is a fabulous performer.

The Poet X: A Novel by Elizabeth Acevedo  


Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata


How I Found This Book

I first read about this book in The Guardian, but it was a tweet this week from The Book Satchel that made me pick it up. She mentioned it in a discussion of the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Thank you!

The Story

Keiko is a mid-30’s woman who stays outside the norms of Japanese society by not being married and only having a part-time job in a convenience store. She has long struggled to understand “normal.” When she accidentally shares something from her life that is seen as “normal” her life changes.

My Thoughts

I loved this book! Keiko’s world, the world she “hears” is the Convenience Store. It is her world, she feels safe, valued, and useful. She doesn’t hear the biological clock ticking within her and doesn’t care. She is herself.

There is probably symbolism here–INCEL [involuntarily celebate] is one that’s mentioned online about this book. Is she autistic? I don’t care. She is exactly who she is meant to be. She has found her niche, and that is rare in this world.

This will be a superb book club book–unlike so many that are just easy to ask questions about, this book will get to the heart of the members in ways they don’t expect.

I’m happy to say this is one of my favorite books so far this year–maybe even of the entire year! We’ll wait and see on that though, right?

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

My Verdict

4 Stars


Book Depository Link

Top 5 Books That Crashed On Me Like a Tidal Wave!


Sorry, but this week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic, Characters That Embody Your Hogwarts House, went nowhere for me! So, here’s my alternate topic. Books That Crashed on Me Like A Tidal Wave!


Embed from Getty Images



First, thank you to blogger The Book Satchel for writing the original post with this title. It was very inspiring and I decided when I read it that I would put together my own list. So, please, click on her link and read her blog, too, as a thank you!


These are the FIRST FIVE that crashed on me–you could call these the “coming-of-age” years five.




GWTW is my all-time favorite book. It was one of the books I took to Peace Corps. I re-read my favorite parts annually. Yes, there are things in it, like the degrading dialect that the slave-characters were written with that are offensive today, and I do not like that. But the story of Scarlett and Rhett is the classic American romance.  Gone With the Wind.







I read Journey and was mesmerized by it. I gave a couple of copies of it away. It led me to Nicholas and Alexandra. Without what happened in Journey (no spoilers!) Nicholas and Alexandra, the classic telling of the last Romanov Tzar and the wife and family he loved, would never have been written. N & A is the book that helped me decide to specialize not in my first love, British history, or my second love, the Civil War, but in Russian and Soviet history. When I first read Journey I devoured it. I got passes out of class and sat in the library and drank it in. Around this time I also enjoyed the Nicola Pagett version of Anna Karenina on PBS and read that book. I plowed on to Nicholas and Alexandra. I’d already read a good deal about the British royal family so it was a logical next step. I’ve watched the movie, but found it dull. By contrast I’ve re-read both of these books several times. From Journey I learned that doing hard things is often the best escape from times of real trial. Nicholas and Alexandra is one of the books I wish I’d written.

Journey by Robert and Suzanne Massey Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie.



One of my first assigned readings at Indiana University in September 1980 was this book–Stop Time. It was in a literature and writing course focusing on self-discovery. This book helped me know I had made the right choice in going to college–even if I made a mess of much of it. This book was so real I could smell the dog crap in that pen he cleaned. But it was the way he kept going, the way he “made it” that stuck with me. Stop Time by Frank Conroy.






The only “all-nighter” I pulled during my slacker-college student years was to read this book. It absolutely took my breath away. I was reading it just as I was learning the history of that very time. Later, when the movie Reds came out, I both liked and disliked it. Overall I thought the movie captured the spirit of the book well. Today, 30+ years later, I can still remember the almost feverish state I was in reading this book.

10 Days That Shook the World, by John Reed.




What books would you say have crashed on you? Leave me a comment.




Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Each week participants write a blog post or make a Yutube video post to share their take on the week’s topic. Why not join in?

Top Ten Tuesday: Standalone Books That Need a Sequel




Well, this week it is Top FOUR Tuesday. I couldn’t come up with the full ten.




#1 Meet Me At The Musem by Anne Youngson

I’m dying to know–did Tina go?? Was it love at first sight?

Read my review here.


#2 Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes




I wish she’d write the sequel and tells us what happened after they arrived home.

Read my review here.


#3 Fire By Night by Lynn Austin



Come on! What happens to Julia and James!!

[This “is” part of a series, but each book is about different people.]



#4 Something Worth Landing, a short story in Fall of Poppies, by Jessica Brockmole

I want to know the rest of Wesley and Victore’s story!

Read my review here.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?



Review: The Girl From the Metropol Hotel by Ludmilla Petrushevskay


I learned of this book from blogger Modern Mrs. Darcy.

The Story

Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskay was born in the Motropol Hotel in Moscow. A child born after “the first time” in Stalinist USSR grows up during the war, experiences the death of Stalin and comes of age in the Khrushchev era. Her abandonment, eventually, by both parents (though her mother will return to her life), both physical and emotional leads her thru years of wild, at times almost feral behavior in childhood. She chronicles her journey from packed communal apartment to other packed communal apartments, to a Soviet children’s home [orphange–though not eligible for adoption] to school to university. The harrowing years of her feral behavior come after non-person or enemy of the people status is conferred on a family member. She rises above this later and has a successful career.

My Thoughts

It was fascinating to read about someone growing up in this era of the Soviet Union. As I’ve said before, Russian and East European Studies was my major, but I graduated in Regan’s first term, so memoirs of this generation weren’t available yet. Our studies were focused on Stalin, the gulag, etc. It was interesting to hear about school at that time and other ordinary events.

What I didn’t like was the title. She barely lived there! It should have been The Girl BORN at the Metropol Hotel.

My Verdict

3.5 Stars



Metropol Hotel photo: Alamy






Review: Claiming My Place by Planaria Price


Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an unpaid review.

The Story

A young Jewish girl in Poland grows up in the 1920s and 1930s during the rise of anti-antisemitism and the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany.  Blessed with blonde hair she changes her name and hides in plain sight to survive. Along the way she tells the story of her education, her interest in Zionism and of the events happening around her to restrict and then end the lives of Europe’s Jews.

My Thoughts

This is a memoir for young people and is while sensitively written, it neither sensationalizes nor sugar-coats the story of real people enduring the true horrors of the Nazi regime and Hitler’s final solution. Students will easily see parallels in today’s world.

“Anti-semitism is so easy to foment. Humans all fear the Other. Is it because we Jews keep together in our neighborhoods, and often speak our own language? Because we eat different food, because we dress differently, because we work so hard and are so successful? I don’t understand why we are so suspected, so despised, but I know we are”   (p. 45).

Students may recognize similar ideas: The Nuremberg laws and our own Jim Crow laws. The forced relocation of the Jews and our Trail of Tears. The concentration camps [albeit not the death camps and final solution] and our Native American reservations and Japanese internment camps. They may see the way propaganda is used to vilify. In the after-war story, they may recognize those held at our Mexican border or see refugees held in European countries or on off-shore islands as the Displaced Persons of the post-war period.

This story personalizes the helplessness of the Jews and their situation. Gucia/Basia was a normal girl, with hopes, dreams, boyfriends, family, going to school, then to college and then…. She endures being forced to attend Jewish schools, forced to sit at the back of the classroom in college, forced to watch as more and more Jewish students are deliberately failed in their college exams and then the Nazi’s invade Poland. This shows how quickly things can change. An example in the USA today of such change would be the incredible speed with which change has been had for transgender acceptance. While not a death threat to anyone, it is a good issue for a speed comparison.

Thru her family and friends’ stories, we see how much of a role luck and risk- taking can have in survival. Those who went early to Palestine, for example, survived. The role of tenacity, faith, perseverance is also shown. In the after-war story people are shown realizing they cannot just hate, they must keep moving forward–they must late go that burden and get on with life.

This is an excellent book for teaching the personal side of the Holocaust. It does not replace other first person accounts, such as Ann Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, or novels such as The Boy in Striped Pajamas or alternative literary pieces such as Maus, but it adds to the canon of classroom-appropriate Holocaust memories for middle grades and upward.

My Verdict

4 Stars


Claiming My Place
By Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook
Genre: YA/NF/History/Holocaust/WWII

A Junior Library Guild selection
Claiming My Place is the true story of a young Jewish woman who survived the
Holocaust by escaping to Nazi Germany and hiding in plain sight.
Meet Gucia Gomolinska: smart, determined, independent, and steadfast in the face
of injustice. A Jew growing up in predominantly Catholic Poland during the 1920s
and ’30s, Gucia studies hard, makes friends, falls in love, and dreams of a
bright future. Her world is turned upside down when Nazis invade Poland and
establish the first Jewish ghetto of World War II in her town of Piotrkow
Trybunalski. As the war escalates, Gucia and her family, friends, and neighbors
suffer starvation, disease, and worse. She knows her blond hair and fair skin
give her an advantage, and eventually she faces a harrowing choice: risk either
the uncertain horrors of deportation to a concentration camp, or certain death
if she is caught resisting. She decides to hide her identity as a Jew and adopts
the gentile name Danuta Barbara Tanska. Barbara, nicknamed Basia, leaves behind
everything and everyone she has ever known in order to claim a new life for
Writing in the first person, author Planaria Price brings the immediacy of
Barbara’s voice to this true account of a young woman whose unlikely survival
hinges upon the same determination and defiant spirit already evident in the
six-year-old girl we meet as this story begins. The final portion of this
narrative, written by Barbara’s daughter, Helen Reichmann West, completes
Barbara’s journey from her immigration to America until her natural, timely
death. Includes maps and photographs.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble


“Price has boldly elected to tell the story in Basia’s own first-person,
present-tense voice. The result is a dramatic, suspenseful account of survival
in extremis, told in collaboration with Basia’s American daughter.” ―Booklist
“Price’s rendering of West’s mother’s early life reads like suspenseful
historical fiction, telling a rarely heard side of the Jewish experience during
WWII . . . Family, friendships, and romance give poignancy to this unique
coming-of-age story, which is further enhanced by maps, a glossary, and an
afterword.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A rich exploration of a Holocaust survivor’s sheltered childhood, the atrocity
that failed to destroy her, and her later life as an immigrant.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“I was completely engrossed by this drama of survival. Barbara Reichmann’s story
is quite extraordinary. It is sad, and terrible, and yet somehow captivating.
The whole story of those who survived the Shoah by passing as Christians and
working in Nazi Germany is an often forgotten part of the historical record.”
―Kai Bird, Executive Director, Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate
Center, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American Prometheus: The
Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
“As occurs with The Diary of Anne Frank, this book merges the dire circumstances
of the Holocaust with the tenuousness of being a teenager. But Claiming My Place
expands the view provided in the diary for one critical reason. Anne Frank’s
story is told within an isolated cocoon. In Barbara’s story, however, the
Holocaust is in full view as her experiences unfold.” ―David H. Lindquist,
Ph.D., IPFW College of Education and Public Policy / Regional Museum Educator,
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
“This frightening true story of a young Jewish girl’s flight from the deadly
grip of the Nazis celebrates the surprising ingenuity and raw courage found only
in the depths of the human spirit. Risking what few others dared, Barbara
Reichmann, née Gucia Gomolinska, speaks with wisdom and uncommon self-awareness
through her detailed, colorful, and evocative recollections from earliest
childhood. In the final portion of this book, her daughter, Helen West,
continues Barbara’s journey in an insightful and loving overview of Barbara’s
life from the family’s arrival in New Orleans in 1951 until her death in 2007.
This is a great read with the suspenseful, inspiring and uplifting appeal of a
novel, about a character who will capture the reader’s heart.” ―Allan Holzman,
Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director and editor (Steven Spielberg’s Survivors
of the Holocaust, Old Man River, The Native Americans)
“Thanks to the detailed memories and the conversational tone, this book provides
an engaging and informative reading experience with as much appeal as a fiction
title. Recommended for most YA nonfiction collections.” ―Magdalena Teske, West
Chicago Public Library District School Library Journal
“This book was truly a celebration of the human spirit. What a gift she has for
putting you in the story. Her way with words, plus her weaving of the actual
events recounted to her by the unbelievably courageous Basia and her daughter
Helen, was nothing short of magical. The included photographs and epilogue
served to fully round out this amazing tale. I never wanted this book to end!”
―Rabbi Lynn Brody Slome


About the Author

After graduating from Berkeley and
earning a Master’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA, Planaria Price began
her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. She has written
several textbooks for University of Michigan Press and has lectured at over 75
conferences. In addition to her passion for teaching and writing, Planaria has
worked with her husband to save and restore over 30 Victorian and Craftsman
homes in her historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Claiming My Place is her first
book for young adults.
For more information, please visit Planaria’s website at

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, March 1
Interview at Passages to the Past
Sunday, March 3
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Monday, March 4
Interview at The Book Connection
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, March 5
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read
Wednesday, March 6
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, March 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, March 8
Feature at T’s Stuff
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life
Sunday, March 10
Review at Clarissa Reads it All
Monday, March 11
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review at Jathan & Heather
Review at Impressions In Ink
Tuesday, March 12
Feature at Maiden of the Pages
Wednesday, March 13
Review at Just One More Chapter


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a signed copy of CLAIMING MY PLACE!
To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any
suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and
entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Claiming My Place Tour


#ClaimingMyPlace #PlanariaPrice #HFVBTBlogTours


Review: The Eight Mountains: A Novel by Paolo Cognetti


First, thank you to A Life In Books for introducing me to this book!

The Story

City boy Pietro comes to the Alps for the summer with his nature-needing mother and mountain climbing, but emotionally distant father. Bruno is a local boy from a dysfunctional family. The friendship they begin in boyhood last a lifetime.

What I Loved

There was something poetic about the language in this small, quiet, book. The language, coupled with a fine audiobook performance by Jacques Roy, made this book a true joy to listen to.  Cognetti manages to make the terrain, landscape, elevation–the “natural world” a character in the story without ever becoming trite or precious. I’ve been in the Rockies in Northern Idaho, the Smokies in Tennessee and North Carolina, have traversed up and down Mt. Mulanje in Malawi, and driven thru more mountains in Scotland–he knows the mountains in his very soul. He knows their language.

This story is the child’s view, then the sullen teen’s view and so on, of his parents and world–that was, at times a bit revelatory for me. I raised a son and daughter on my own. This story shows the impact even an emotionally cold father or an abusive father can have on a boy. As each boy came of age, both Pietro and Bruno struggle to define themselves as men even when, for one, a life-changing offer is made and rejected.  Both boys saw the offer in a different light than the offering party. I’ve spent years studying students in this country who grow up like Bruno. It amazed me to see the most predictable outcome of such efforts in a totally different culture.

I liked reading the man’s side of a relationship, too. That Pietro had an exit strategy in mind at the beginning of every relationship was not news, but it was refreshing to hear it voiced. But more refreshing was that he still had more respect for women and than many who pretend to embrace relationships and imbue them with the predictable phony trappings.

The ending was poignant [no spoilers] and not at all what I expected which was yet another sign of the excellence of the writing.


My Verdict

4.0 stars

Highy Recommended

Blogger Dolce Bellezza put it brilliantly: “I don’t have the right words for this wonderful book, except to say that I recommend you read it.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like To Switch Places With


This was a tough topic for me. I’m not into fantasy and “other worlds,” so that avenue was pretty much closed. I read a lot of nonfiction or historical fiction based on real people, too.

Here are the characters I’d like to change place with:

From Books

1. Rosetta


I’ve long been fascinated by the Civil War. This book, one of the few woman-disguised-as-man books that have ever “worked” for me, tells the story of a new wife who goes to war to be with her husband. There is much more to it though!

My review from my old blog: I started to reject this out-of-hand: a woman impersonating a man to fight in the Civil War? Please! I’m so glad I didn’t. While there is a rather odd little sub-story of (I am confused which!) of a Christian guy falling for the woman while presenting as a man (or did he see thru that?) or was he gay and attracted to her as a man? Very odd. Otherwise, this is an amazing story–the reviewers were right–the battle scenes are almost too vivid. This is a love story of the highest order as well as being as story of self-discovery (not discovery of sexual “identity”), of marriage, of coming-of-age, of so much more. This is not to be missed! I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe.

2. A nameless student at Hogwarts


So are the Aristocracy–the Malfoys–as stuck up as we think? Are Harry, Ron, and Hermoine too much of a clique? Are the Quidditch players as full of themselves as basketball and football players? Is movie Draco’s movie Dad as hot as I think he is every time I watch these movies? Is Professor McGonigal approachable? Can I really work with dragons? Can I skip mandrake-potting and just hide in the library? Harry Potter series.

3. Clay in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


Here’s how I described this book on my old blog: “I’m not sure how to review this fun book without giving spoilers! Part Harry Potter, party mystery, part almost, but not quite, sci-fi–this is such a great read!!! Just go read it!!!” Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

4. A Wife at Los Alamos


This book was disappointing, but what a fascinating thing to live thru. And in a place that was about as foreign to most Americans of that day as a south seas island. Here’s my review from my old blog: “Like  The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, this book is told in a slightly odd, almost poetic, plural voice that generalizes everything. “Our Marcias got chicken pox…” (p. 14) “We were round-faced, boisterous, austere, thin-boned…” (p. 12). It does not read like a novel, but does tell the story in its way. Like reading a montage of photos. I  hope this isn’t the new cool literary fad of the year. It’s very difficult to follow the thread of the story–all the “we” and “us” get in the way. There is no one to focus on. A group is too much.Minor historical errors of this magnitude: Soldiers in World War II weren’t issued black glasses.” The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit.

5. An evesdroper at the table next to the Swans and Truman


Wouldn’t that have been fun? Imagine evesdropping on these beauties! The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. Read my review here.

6. A Lady In Waiting at the Court During the War of the Roses


Here’s part of the review from my old blog that makes the story seem very, very current! “Remember, in the Bible, it tells us there is nothing new under the sun? The War of Roses then is simply Gang Warfare–late 15th Century Style. The great warlord, Warwick, the rival gangs York and Lancaster–each with their colors and symblols (rose tattoo anyone??). The gangs fight, steal land, pillage treasuries, bed daughters,etc. See if this, also, sounds familiar? An heir to the British throne, Edward, is “bewitched” and “besotted” and completely under the thumb of a woman most people can’t stand!” The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory.

7.  A friend of Christopher Robin’s


Admit it. You’ve always wanted to play with Tigger! And hug Pooh and just be there with them all. Winne the Pooh by A.A. Milne.

From Movies And TV

8.  A policy wonk in Jeb Bartlett’s White House in the West Wing


One wife, nice to his staff, no bimbo erruptions or paid-off hookers–Jeb Bartlet was a good guy. I’d work for him. Even if I didn’t agree with him on all things. It worked for Ainsley Hayes


9. Wardrobe Assistant for P.T. Barnum in the Greatest Showman


10. The Person Who Explained to the Professor That You Can’t Get That Lost on a 3-Hour Tour: Gilligan’s Island


Professor is alone on the right

This has bugged me since childhood. If the professor can make a radio battery out of a coconut, why couldn’t he make sextant and figure out their location?? Just goes to proove that crazy academics have been with us forever.

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