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Book Reviews in Review: 2017

December 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Here are my favorite five of the books I reviewed in 2017:

Being Written

As one who barely manages to control or corral the characters I put to page, I was hooked from the moment I read the description of Being Written.  The idea of a minor character subverting an author’s plot line for his own gain was not only intriguing, but made the writer in me curious how Conescu would pull it off.  Well, he did and it was great fun.  While some may not care for the ending, I found it absolutely perfect for the story. (5 of 5 Stars)

Being Written on Amazon.com

 

An extremely pleasant surprise, this book is not a traditional history of aviation, cataloging the different makes and models of aircraft through the years. Instead, Jay Spenser has authored the “biography” of a thing. And just as a man’s character can be revealed through the trajectory of events and experiences on his path from youth to adulthood, the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” is understood as the “grown-up” Wright Flyer achieved through a lifetime of technological advances. As a pilot and aviation aficionado, I came away seeing the airplane in a new light and perspective. (5 of 5 Stars)

Link to The Airplane on Amazon

 

An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by [Mendelsohn, Daniel]

While mothers are a child’s “safe space,” fathers — contrary to their current oafish pop culture stereotype ala Homer Simpson — are all too often familial labyrinths.  I guess it’s easier to make fun of something than admit you can’t really figure it out.  Daniel Mendelsohn’s paternal “odyssey” uses the other famous Homer’s epic as a template to get a measure of the kind of man his father really was.  If you’re a fan of The Odyssey (and I am), this book is an intriguing and enlightening look at both a classic of literature and the tangled relationships between fathers and sons.  (5 of 5 stars)

Link to An Odyssey: A Father, a Son and an Epic on Amazon.com

I was cruising along in this bio and unexpectedly slammed head-on into the epilogue–well before Wilbur died and all of the patent hassles with Glenn Curtiss, et al.  This book is less a history than an outstanding tribute to the Wright Brothers’ accomplishment, ending in 1910 with the first and only flight Wilbur and Orville ever made together at the pinnacle of their acclaim, having showcased their Flyer in Europe and America. Being familiar with their story, what McCullough really captured for me was the impact on the times had by an invention we now take for granted.  (5 of 5 Stars)

The Wright Brothers on Amazon.com

 

This was a fun read — but, of course, I’m a sucker for crosscut kinds of stories:  Hints from Heloise meets Igor the Assassin.  It reminded me a lot of my second favorite Kathleen Turner movie, Serial Mom. Grisly good fun with enough twists and turns to leave Bond, James Bond, scratching his head.   (4 of 5 Stars)

The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook on Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: An Odyssey: A Father, a Son and an Epic

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by [Mendelsohn, Daniel]

While mothers are a child’s “safe space,” fathers — contrary to their current oafish pop culture stereotype ala Homer Simpson — are all too often familial labyrinths.  I guess it’s easier to make fun of something than admit you can’t really figure it out.  Daniel Mendelsohn’s paternal “odyssey” uses the other famous Homer’s epic as a template to get a measure of the kind of man his father really was.  If you’re a fan of The Odyssey (and I am), this book is an intriguing and enlightening look at both a classic of literature and the tangled relationships between fathers and sons.  (5 of 5 stars)

Link to An Odyssey: A Father, a Son and an Epic on Amazon.com

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The First Air War: 1914-1918

December 1, 2017 Leave a comment

The First Air War: 1914-1918 by [Kennett, Lee]

Only a decade or so after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, the airplane went to war, which proves that when motivated by self-preservation government can move rather quickly.  While most of us pilots have a rather myopic view of the importance of the duels in the air by the likes of Rickenbacker and von Richtofen, Lee Kennett puts aviation’s role in the “War to End All Wars” into proper perspective as more of a supporting player–but certainly one that would quickly move to center stage just two decades later.  (4 of 5 Stars)

Link to The First Air War on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Eddie Rickenbacker, An American Hero

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero by [Adamson, Hans Christian]

If Rickenbacker were alive today, I can’t help but believe he’d be one of the wizards of Silicon Valley.  An American Hero gives a fascinating account of his involvement, first, in the emerging automobile industry at the turn of the Twentieth Century — as a factory worker, a car salesman, a successful race car driver and team owner, then as a designer and manufacturer of his own brand and owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With the coming of World War I, he set his sights (so to speak) on aviation and finagled his way into becoming Billy Mitchell’s personal driver as a stepping stone to a set of Army pilot wings and a seat in the cockpit of a “Hat-in-the-Ring” pursuit plane. From there he became the 94th Squadron commander, America’s leading ace and eventually president of Eastern Airlines.  Written before the final chapter of Rickenbacker’s life was closed, this unfinished bio is not only the story of an amazing man, but in its narrative style is also a glimpse into a by-gone era.  (4 of 5 Stars)

Link to An American Hero on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

This was a fun read — but, of course, I’m a sucker for crosscut kinds of stories:  Hints from Heloise meets Igor the Assassin.  It reminded me a lot of my second favorite Kathleen Turner movie, Serial Mom. Grisly good fun with enough twists and turns to leave Bond, James Bond, scratching his head.   (4 of 5 Stars)

The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook on Amazon.com

 

 

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Terror of the Autumn Skies

September 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Besides Waldo Pepper, Rickenbacker, Richthofen and Brown are the only pilot names that come to mind from World War I.  So, learning about America’s very first Ace of Aces, who was also the first aviator to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, was  a great discovery for me as a pilot and a history buff.  Luke’s missions against German observation balloons also revealed aspects of the air war over the trenches I had never known.   (4 of 5 Stars)

Link to Terror of the Autumn Skies on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Yellow Ribbon (Dev Haskell Mystery, #11)

September 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Not so much a whodunit as a “when-will-it-end” kind of story, I didn’t enjoy this installment as much as I did Last Shot.  Dev is a likeable character, but the running gag about his appearance wore thin after a while, kind of like the plot.  It’s not bad, but with sixteen other books in the series, I would read this one last.  (3 of 5 Stars)

Link to Yellow Ribbon on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read
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