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Best Books of 2021 – Chapter 3

I have always enjoyed reading books about building things and several years ago, I wrote an entire post about David McCollough’s book, The Great Bridge:  The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge  (Click here for that post).  So, when I ran across this new book by Tracey Enerson Wood entitled, The Engineer’s Wife, that told the story of Washington Roebling’s wife, I was once again intrigued.

In contrast to the exhaustively researched and factual book by McCollough, Wood’s book is historical fiction.  I recalled being amazed in McCollough’s book about what a huge role Emily Roebling played in the construction after her husband became debilitated due to medical conditions, and thus decided to give the book a try.  Once again, I am glad I did.

Recognizing this was a fictional novel, I knew I would be reading some passages that did not really happen.  But I still thoroughly enjoyed reading and becoming familiar again with many of the critical steps necessary to complete the bridge.  Further, I was entertained reading about the lives of other important characters in the story.  Beyond the building process, this book offered the more human side of the construction process.  And front and center was the significant role that Emily played and the heartaches and emotions that she suffered along the way.

As I read this very entertaining story, I couldn’t help but wonder if what I was reading was fictionalized.  And as if answering my wonder, after turning the last page, I was pleased to find an afterward by the author that pointed out the fictional characters the author created along with the parts of the story that did not occur (no need to fact check).  But in spite, of the fictionalized parts, it was still a very enjoyable book.  She also credited McCullough’s book as one of her references and a biography about Emily that I now want to read to delve more into the factual life of this inspiring turn of the century woman.

Those of you who have read my previous posts about time travel books, know I am a sucker for this genre.  So, when I read the brief synopsis on Amazon for Faye, Faraway, a 2021 debut novel by Helen Fisher, that offered an interesting twist on the time traveler story, I knew I had to read it.  I rarely use this abbreviation but for this book I must:  OMG!  I loved it!

Faye is a thirty-seven-year-old happily married woman with two daughters who suddenly finds herself 30 years in the past inside her mother’s house, at a time when Faye was six years old and just a year before her mother, her sole parent, dies of an unknown illness.  Having grieved the absence of her mother almost her entire life, Faye spends some time getting to know her mother better, who is over 10 years younger than she is when Faye travels back in time.  Faye even gets to see and talk to her younger self at the young age of six—an interesting twist on a time travel story—who, not unexpectantly has many things in common.

On those occasions when Faye travels back to the present time, she tries to convince a friend of hers what happened.  Once he is convinced, they have several lengthy philosophical discussions about what negative impact her travels to the past could have to the present—a temporal paradox.  Even though Faye desperately wants to go back to spend more time with her mom, these discussions force her to consider what detrimental impact her time travel could have on her present-day family.

But as the story reaches its climax, an amazing turn of events occurs.  Reading the last few pages, I got goosebumps from how the story unfolded.  It was a wonderful ending, and this book is now one of my all-time favorite time travel books.  If this genre interests you, I am certain you will enjoy it too.

After having thoroughly enjoyed the Kat Bronsky 2-book aviation series by John J. Nance several years ago, I tried a few other of his books but each underwhelmed me in comparison.  Then while looking for books to download before a long west coast flight, I came across Phoenix Rising published in 1994.  As I read the short synopsis, I was intrigued by the storyline, a modern-day resurrection of the old Pan Am Airways brand via a reintroduction of their game changing luxury airline experience.  Only catch was one or more individuals were out to stop them using a multi-pronged approach.

It is always fun to read an edge-of-your-seat, fast-paced, heart-racing book and this one had my heart rate up multiple times throughout from beginning to the very end.  From one main storyline to another, unscrupulous financial and physical sabotage and near-death events were taking place to kill the airline before it even got off the ground.  From FAA reported maintenance issues, missing pilot training records, computer hacks, multi-million-dollar financial manipulations, court room injunctions and even direct tampering with aircraft, the parties were determined to bring Pan Am down.  As I read the story, I did not know what was real and what had been manipulated.  But in the climax, a very logical and sinister plot emerged with surprise culprits identified.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book so much; I will definitely go back and reconsider some of Nance’s other books as well.  If you have an interest in exciting aviation fiction that is so real, it could be factual, then you too will enjoy this book!

I added Andy Weir’s latest book, Project Hail Mary, to my Amazon Wishlist long before it was published.  So, when it was released, I snatched it up soon after.  Having thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of his first book, The Martian, I was confident I was in for a great read.  I was not disappointed.

I am not a huge fan of science fiction (although I do love time travel books) but Andy makes this story so plausible.  I’m sure all geeks out there will love the authenticity of the math and science supporting his story, but even if you don’t, it doesn’t get so deep as to detract from the fact that a sole astronaut is on a last-ditch space flight to save our planet Earth.  Along the way, with flashes to his past, he discovers how he, a high school science teacher, ended up on this mission as he regains his lost memory.

The plot is filled with unexpected twists, setbacks, and surprise events that will keep you on the edge of your seat unwilling to put the book down.  I loved the ending and as I turned the last page, I only wondered how long it would be before this book, like his first, would also be made into a movie.

     To be Continued…

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