Blog Tour/Book Review: The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo

About The Fire By Night

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (January 17, 2017)

A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.

When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

About Teresa Messineo

Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind The Fire by Night, her first novel. She is a graduate of DeSales University, and her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing, and competitive athletics. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Connect with Teresa on Facebook.

 

 

My Review

World War I was given the title of “The War to End All Wars.” And while there was peace for a short while, it did not take long for a power hungry, hate monger, Hitler, to start war anew, one from which no country was immune. For Josephine (Jo) McMahon, an Irish-Italian girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, and Kay Elliott, a sheltered girl from a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania, WWII would change their lives forever.

Determined to do their duty for their country, Jo and Kay enlist in the Army Nursing Corps. They meet while in nurse training together in New York, and truly become best friends. Kay gets the plum assignment in Hawaii. Fancy balls, never ending sun, tons of good looking officers, and delicious food almost making nursing feel like heaven. She marries the man of her dreams. In her letters to Jo, Kay teases her about getting the best assignment while Jo is off somewhere else. Life was never so good, until Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese.

On the other side of the world, Jo serves valiantly first in Africa, then Italy, and then France. She ends up at the front with the German army advancing. As they close the field hospital down, there are not enough transports to get Jo and the 6 injured men she has been caring for out of harm’s way.

And so, life as an Army nurse is nothing like the recruiters told them it would be. Instead it is filled with fear, enemies, artillery, and an endless line of injured and dying military personnel and noncombatants. Limited life sustaining supplies, lack of food, and even hostility from enlisted US military personnel make being a nurse a test of will. How dedicated can Kay and Jo be when there is nothing to rely on? The main question is whether or not they will even survive the war.

Ms. Messineo reports that she spent 7 years researching and even interviewed two aged WWII survivors wth the goal in mind of making the story authentic. Due to her research and her writing skill, Ms. Messineo presents a realistic picture of the war. Hollywood cannot really do the truth justice. Of course, since I am an RN, I was deeply interested in reading about my forebears, even though the story was fictional. Truthfully, I wanted the book to end sooner than it did, and that was only because the ongoing suffering was getting hard to bear. However, in order for the book to be as authentic and as good as it was, it actually ended at the right time. I would give this book 4 ½ of 5 stars.

I again would like to thank TLC Book Tours for allowing me to have a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest book review. This opportunity introduced me to another author I might not have discovered on my own. I am grateful.

 

Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 17th: Literary Quicksand

Wednesday, January 18th: Flavia the Bibliophile

Thursday, January 19th: Mama Vicky Says

Friday, January 20th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, January 23rd: StephTheBookworm

Tuesday, January 24th: The Paperback Pilgrim

Wednesday, January 25th: Library of Clean Reads

Thursday, January 26th: #redhead.with.book

Friday, January 27th: Art @ Home

Monday, January 30th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, January 31st: Tina Says…

Wednesday, February 1st: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, February 6th: Let Them Read Books

 

Best of Books #Giveaway Hop

 

Happy New Year, Fellow Readers!

I had a wonderful reading year in 2016. I hope you did as well. I read 64 books last year so picking my favorite book out of them all was a little difficult. I came across several that were 5 star worthy reads. So after going back and forth through my reading log I settled on Inferno by Dan Brown. I have been a Dan Brown/Professor Langdon fan since the release of The Da Vinci Code.

Inferno, as you can probably guess is based on Dante Alghieri’s book of the same name. This book is Dante’s depiction of hell and the punishments awaiting the wicked. Brown must love Italy because several of his books are based there. I also believe that he does a lot of research in order to give all the details and geography found in his novels.

In this story Professor Langdon awakens in an Italian hospital after being shot in the head. He has no recollection of how he got there or what happened. He doesn’t even recall ever coming to Italy. As he is recovering from his injuries, his doctor is shot in front of him. He is next but his nurse helps him escape. Thus begins a dangerous chase through the streets and museums of Florence.

With the assistance of his brilliant nurse, he tries to put 2 and 2 together. What has this got to do with Dante? He ends up searching for clues in a museum that holds Dante’s death mask. The mask is stolen and Professor Langdon is the last one to have seen it. As the museum closes down because of the theft Professor Langdon has to find a way to escape.

In Inferno Dante describes the levels of sin and punishments in hell. Each level worsens the deeper one descends. The focus in the novel is on the 9th circle. In the 9th circle there is a depiction of the severe overcrowding of the souls condemned to eternity there. Langdon receives a copy of Dante’s drawing of hell, but he realizes that someone has drawn the order differently from the original. He needs to figure out the significance of this alteration and is running out of time.

Interwoven in the plot are a few other seemingly unrelated subplots. Mr. Brown is very good at weaving twists and turns into his novels, none of which are red herrings. All his deviations from the main plot end up coming together. Throw in a big double cross, a world renowned geneticist, a plague that Professor Langdon has to stop from being released, if he can figure out what it is and where to find it, the Swiss Guard hunting him down, and the return of vague memories all combine to make this a non-stop thrill ride through Italy and elsewhere. I couldn’t put this book down. Definitely 5 of 5 stars and 2 thumbs up, to borrow a phrase. One burning question – Where is Dante’s death mask, who stole it, and why?

I am offering a brand new paperback copy of Inferno by Dan Brown to someone to enjoy for the Best Book of 2016! Good luck and happy reading!

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Seeing as I am not the only bibliophile residing in my little popstand, my daughter and general manager, Daphne is going to join the book giveaway too. Take it away Daphne …

Hey, all. Daphne here. I read less books than my mom did (I read 58 to her above-mentioned 64) last year but I enjoyed most everyone I picked up. However, when it came time to choose my favorite read it wasn’t hard at all. I have chosen Caught by Harlan Coben, a book that has turned me into a lifelong fan of his works. A friend of mine has ready many books of his and had been recommending them to me for quite some time. I finally broke down and picked one up and am so glad I did. Caught was a wonderful, suspenseful read about a man who was just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time trying to do a good deed and got into major trouble for it. I would go into a detailed description about it but I think the synopsis does a better job for me:

Reporter Wendy Tynes is making a name for herself, bringing down sexual offenders on nationally televised sting operations. But when social worker Dan Mercer walks into her trap, Wendy gets thrown into a story more complicated than she could ever imagine. Dan is tied to the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old New Jersey girl, and the shocking consequences will have Wendy doubting her instincts about the motives of the people around her, while confronting the true nature of guilt, grief, and her own capacity for forgiveness…

There were so many twists and turns in this novel so many rich, complex characters and no easy answers. I truly never saw the ending coming and usually I can guess endings in most mystery/thriller novels with a fair amount of ease (No, I am not tooting my horn lol).

This paperback copy of Caught is also brand new and I hope if you win it, you enjoy it as much as I did!

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? (January 16, 2017)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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It’s the start of a new week of reading. I am on the last chapter of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. It may have won the Pulitzer Prize, but it wasn’t my cup of tea (though, I don’t actually drink tea.) I’ll be passing it on.

I am in the middle of Blogging All-in-One for Dummies by Susan Gunelius. I am learning a lot. There is a fair amount of repetition in the book, but that may be so that beginners and novices like myself retain the information.

I am starting Law and Disorder by Heather Graham as part of a book tour. It is from Harlequin, but the main plot surrounds mystery and intrigue. I am not a romance reader, a romance that occurs as a side story is okay. I hope the intrigue carries the story.

Happy Birthday to the Reverend Martin Luther King! Wishing you all a wonderful week.
-Mama Vicky

 

Posts from last week:
Little Blog on the Prairie – Cathleen Davitt Bell

Life’s urgent question


Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:
what are you doing for others?
~ Martin Luther King

Book Review: Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell

Little Blog on the Prairie
By Cathleen Davitt Bell

Daphne saw this book at the library and checked it out because of the title. She does like The Little House on the Prairie books. This book is written for teens, but that has never stopped either of us from trying a book out. The picture on the cover looked cute and I was curious about it because of the word “blog” in the title. I am interested in blogs because I learn something, even from fiction, that might help me to be better at blogging. Now to the book:

Genevieve is used to family vacations at places like Club Med and in such places as the Bahamas. This time her family vacation is going to put her in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming in the 1890’s. Wyoming? 1890? What in the world? Her mother set up this vacation and though Genevieve begs to stay home and enjoy the summer with her friends and the swimming pool, Mom says, “No.” As we all know, you can’t argue with Mama and expect to win. Genevieve’s father is even in the dark as to what this vacation will entail. Mom lays out a little bribe. Mom has gotten her a new cell phone with the proviso being that the phone stays home and Genevieve gets it after the family vacation. She can’t argue with that so off she goes with the family to Wyoming. When they arrive at the vacation destination they are greeted by a man and a woman who look like they came from the 1890s. The lodgings are not hotels, but cabins such as would be found in that time period. Immediately the family must give up their modern clothing and put on pioneer items. Any phones, make-up, radios, etc. that aren’t found in that era are not allowed. Genevieve protests but insists on being able to keep her Clearasil kit. You know teenagers and their acne problems. Betsy, who runs the “resort” with her stiff husband, Ron, agrees to let her keep it.

Unbeknownst to Betsy and Mom, there is more in the zit prevention kit besides Clearasil. Did you know that Clearasil now offers free phones? In Genevieve’s mind this is the vacation from Hades. They have to draw their own water. They have to cook on a wood stove and use it for heat. They have to manage a corn field, milk their cow, and raise a couple of chickens. PS – adding insult to injury, no toilets! Only lovely, stinky, dark outhouses. Genevieve holds her bladder until she is about to burst. Her 1st visit to the little shack is a disaster. For sure she wants to go home.

Out comes the cell phone and she texts her friends about the happenings. Her friend Ashley asks if she can use Genevieve’s posts for a school project she is doing. Genevieve agrees and so the unpleasant occurrences at camp become accessible on the internet. Toss into the mix several other interesting families, an unhappy daughter of Ron and Betsy named Nora seems to have it out for Genevieve from the start. There is a cute boy to fight over, and what is that we see? Our naturalists Ron and Betsy have a hidden shack that is wired with electricity, a computer, and a lot of diet Coke. All of this makes for a funny tale that I think you would enjoy. It’s an easy read with a few suprises.

I would give it 4 stars out of 5 stars because it is entertaining. Can’t take a vacation right now? Try slipping vicariously into Wyoming in the 1890s and see if it’s something you would like to experience. The old saying (and I don’t think it is from 1890) fits – “Try it. You’ll like it.”

Happy Reading! What is your current read right now? Please share with us.

Book Offer

Every so often a book comes along that impacts a person’s life in a marvelous way. For me, that book is The Book of Mormon. Because of its influence for good in my life, I would love to share this book with others. I will gladly send a new, free copy of The Book of Mormon to anyone who wants one.

Please email me at grandmavicky@yahoo.com. Your information will be kept confidential.

Sugar and Spice Advice on Foot Care

Do you ever think about your feet? Yes, I said your feet. They are marvels and actually do a lot more work than we given them credit for. Feet not only help us balance, but they obviously get us where we want to go. Have you ever had a time when you had a foot problem? Maybe a broken bone (There are many bones in our feet.)? Or plantar’s fasciitis? What about something as simple as a sprain? I can tell you for myself having had a few rounds of plantar fasciitis, that it is not only painful, but it limits your mobility. I know I have given more thought to my feet then and how much they actually do. In addition, I pray for a speedy recovery so I can be on my way again.

We know that proper fitting shoes, good posture, and keeping our feet clean promotes healthy feet. Did you know, though, that your feet change as you age? It is true. It’s not just that they get tired from all the mileage they have walked, but there are a few other ways they change. Below are the changes and what can be done to keep us on our toes! (I wish I could take credit for that little pun, but I didn’t come up with it. Still, I think it is clever.)

Your feet change shape. The last time you went to buy shoes did you notice you are no longer a size 6? You’ve graduated up a size? That is because the combined force of millions of steps over the years has made your feet longer and wider. In high school I was a size 5. Very cool! The only small part of my body. Now when I buy shoes I am moving over to los grandes sizes – 8 to 8 ½. Your arch may also flatten a bit. No more high arch as a ballet dancer. Now I look for shoes with a good arch support. Have you noticed more heel pain? Over time the fat layer on the bottom of your feet thins which translates to less natural padding and a heavier step.

Now what to do? We are back to a pair of comfortable, well-fitting shoes. Look for a pair that matches your foot shape. Avoid shoes with a pointed area for your toes and high heels. They may look nice, but they aren’t the kindest things for your feet. Don’t forget to try the shoes on in the store and walk around the store a bit to make sure they don’t slip or pinch. (And when trying on shoes, please take a pair of socks or nylon foot covers to use when trying on shoes. It is so gross so see people put their bare feet into the shoes, deciding they don’t want them, and put them back for some unsuspecting customer. Foot fungus, anyone? We’ll get to this a few paragraphs from now.)

Diabetics have to be especially careful of their feet. Even a blister can lead to unpleasant problems. Make sure your shoes are padded and comfortable. Not too tight, not too loose. Inspect your feet daily for any problems. Wear cotton socks (this is good advice to everyone) that will wick moisture away from your feet, such as when you have sweaty feet. Have your doctor examine your feet when you have appointments. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have developed any blisters or sores especially if they are open wounds.

The skin dries out. Your feet lose moisture as they age and this can lead to rough, dry, scaly patches to form on your lower legs and heels. On top of this some medications can have side effects that can affect your skin, and both issues together can lead to itching or burning. Heels seem to especially succumb to dryness.

Lotions, creams, and ointments can help rehydrate your skin. Also try to avoid using hot water and harsh soaps on your skin when you bathe. Use warm water and milder soaps. You can talk with your doctor to see if your medications can affect your skin.

Achy joints. As we age joints become sore, they creak, and don’t seem as flexible as they used to be. Why? Because nearly 50% of adults have arthritis in their feet or ankles by the time they are in their 60s or 70s. Of those 50% with arthritis there are many who do not have any symptoms. Unfortunately for those who do have symptoms the pain can become so bad that walking becomes impossible.

Seek treatment at the onset of stiffness, pain, or swelling in the joints. In rheumatoid arthritis the joints can be swollen and red. Gout is another disease that can cause swollen and painful joints, especially of the big toes. This is something to see the doctor for. Often it can be treated with diet changes alone and if needed, medication. Where I worked, many male Filipino employees had gout. Putting a shoe on and walking can be very painful. The flare ups seem to be related to diet.

Controlling your weight and exercising regularly can also prevent and treat arthritis.

Foot fungus, the bane of your feet’s existence. The moist, dark environment of your sneakers makes the perfect home for athlete’s foot and other types of fungus. Toenails can become fungal and the nails become very thick, dark, start to lift off the nail bed, and require a podiatrist to cut them. Slower circulation and weaker immune systems can make these infections more common in older adults. Signs of fungus include dry skin, blisters, redness, and peeling.

Try over-the-counter cream or powder, like clotrimazole or terbinafine. Talk with your doctor if you your symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks. To prevent infections, wash and dry your feet regularly. And a little common sense is in order. Change your shoes and socks often.

Bunions. I haven’t had this and I don’t want it either. I know people who have had painful bunions and walking is a trial. Years of stuffing your feet into too-small or pointy-toed shoes can contribute to bunions. (I am not sure why the female attorneys I have seen at the courthouse, and to be clear, no, I am not the defendant, love those high-heeled pointy-toed shoes. The halls in our county courthouse are long and uncarpeted. After walking a while, that has got to hurt. But, I digress once again.) Bunions are swollen, tender joints at the base of your big toe. Heredity may also play a role.

Help is available to prevent this before it becomes a surgical issue.Wearing wide shoes or adding inserts or padding can help relieve the pain and pressure. Over-the-counter pain medications can reduce the swelling. Something nonsteroidal like ibuprofen or naproxen. If bunions are impacting your life and mobility, talk with your doctor about surgery. This is usually an outpatient procedure, but healing time can be a few weeks long.

Remember our feet are our friends. Let’s take good care of them and enjoy a long pain free walk through life. It is easy to do and worth the effort. Your feet will thank you and be more willing to cart you around.

Sugar and Spice
is brought to you by
Sugar and Spice Designs
a mother-daughter company-
makers of hand poured soaps, bath salts,
unique greeting cards, and comfy beanies.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (January 9, 2017)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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Happy 2107, Everyone! Best wishes for a wonderful new year with lots of time to read! I have just finished The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo for a book tour. The novel focuses on 2 registered nurses who serve in different areas of the world during WWII. I am an RN so it was a must read for me.

I am currently in the middle of two books, Olive Kitteridge, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, and Blogging All-in-One for Dummies by Susan Gunelius. I still feel like I am fairly new to the blogosphere and have a lot to learn. Tonight I will be starting Law and Disorder by Heather Graham for a book tour. I’ll let you know how these 3 books rate in my estimation.

I look forward to hearing what you all are reading. Have a great week! – Mama Vicky

Stress-busters

These ideas might have been better suited to the pre-holiday rush, but I think they will work just as well as we launch into a new year. Stress seems to be a frequent companion for most folks. Thank you to my daughter and GM, Daphne, for locating these. I’ve added some other ideas. Here are 25 ideas to bust stress whenever it comes along. (I’d probably have to use all of them to help me cope with living in Alaska.)

  1. Get up 15 minutes earlier every morning. There is less rush and if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to handle it.
  2. The night before, get as much ready as you can for the following day. For example, plan and lay out your outfit.
  3. Don’t rely on your memory. Use a small planner or write down your appointment times. I like to think that I have a great memory, but even so, when there are so many things going on at once, I do sometimes forget an item.
  4. Don’t lie. You won’t have to spend time coming up with a story to cover yourself. Besides, a clear conscience makes life a lot easier.
  5. Make duplicates of all keys and keep them in safe places.
  6. Practice preventive maintenance. This is not just for your car. This applies to your home, your health, and your relationships.
  7. Be prepared to wait. In fact, plan for it. Take a paperback or a letter that needs to be written with you. When the doctor is inevitably running late, you will at least not be totally wasting your time. Or try taking a book of crossword or word search puzzles along.
  8. Do not procrastinate! Nothing will add stress to your life more than putting off what should be done. Even if you only get a portion of the project done, it is better than nothing at all. My hero, Abraham Lincoln, wisely stated, “Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today.” There’s also a saying: Nothing makes people more productive than the last minute. Before the last minute comes there is a lot of worry caused by waiting until the last minute.
  9. Plan ahead.
  10. Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. Get it fixed or replace it.
  11. Eliminate or restrict the amount of caffeine in your diet, particularly coffee, tea, and cola.
  12. Set up a contingency plan for those “just in case moments.”
  13. Review your priorities. For example, the world will not end if you don’t get your lawn mowed this weekend. Making it to your child’s soccer game is higher up on the importance scale.
  14. Accentuate the positive. For everything that goes wrong, there are probably 5, 10, or more blessings. Stop occasionally and count them.
  15. Ask questions. Repeat directions back, ask what is expected of you. This will save you time and frustration.
  16. Be able to say “no.” This is a tough one, but as much as you would like to, you cannot do it all. When a person tries to do it all, she/he eventually tires out and things aren’t done well. Everyone needs a break.
  17. Another toughy – unplug your phone. Let your answering machine or voice mail help you tune out.
  18. Not everything is a need, a must have. Food, clothing, shelter are needs. Everything else is a want.
  19. Simplify. This word needs to be said over and over until simplifying becomes a habit, and a good one at that.
  20. Make friends with non-worriers. Hanging around folks who are chronic worrywarts gets a person into the worry business quickly.
  21. Sitting for extended periods of time or doing repetitive tasks fatigues and strains your body. Take stretch breaks often or change tasks for a while.
  22. Need a quiet environment? Try ear plugs.
  23. Get enough sleep every night. Start to unwind a while before going to bed.
  24. Organize. De-clutter. This cannot be stressed enough. Think of how much time you waste searching for something. It just takes a moment to put things back where they belong.
  25. Deep breathe. When feeling stressed, a person tends to breathe in short, shallow breaths. When breathing like this, stale air is not expelled and oxygenation of your tissues is incomplete. This can lead to muscle tension. Check your breathing throughout the day, and before and after high pressure situations. When you are relaxed, your chest and abdomen expand when you breathe. Taking deep breaths really is calming.

Wishing you good health, peace, and prosperity.

Sugar and Spice Advice
is brought to you by
Sugar and Spice Designs
a mother and daughter company
offering hand-poured soaps, bath salts,
specialty greeting cards, and comfy beanies.

Power

The most common way people give up their power
is by thinking they don’t have any.
~ Alice Walker