Chopper by Robert F. Dorr (Caliber, 2005)
Chopper is a compilation book, in which historian Robert F. Dorr has gathered the technical specifics of every helicopter used in U.S. military operations, then found gripping combat stories from crew members to demonstrate the way the helicopter provides unique benefits and risks in combat.
The result is a cross-section of America’s wars and legal operations, as well as occasional insights into the value provided by different upgrades and modifications of our vehicles.
By framing the book in this way, the author provides an interesting overview of the steady improvements (and occasional steps backward) in developing an important military asset while maintaining the interest of the reader via action-filled and sometimes humorous vignettes and giving a glimpse into the difficulties faced with different anti-aircraft weaponry, terrain, and opposition fighting techniques.
An interesting book, particularly valuable to anyone interested in military aviation.
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine (2003, Roc)
This is the first book in the author’s breakout series. introducing Joanne Baldwin as a Weather Warden – a person with supernatural powers enabling her to manipulate the weather.
It’s fluffy, but it’s a good fluffy. The book hit the shelves when the “paranormal romance” was at the height of its popularity growth. Every writer needed a hook to seem different from the Buffy clones on the shelves, and Caine’s decision to focus on weather magic and djinns against the more popular misunderstood vampires, werewolves and “good demons” (I have yet to understand that concept) pays dividends. Not only is it set apart from the pack in the nature of its hook, the weather angle encourages the author to have her character travel, resulting in a set of adventures which have added elements of action inherent to the stories.
The result is a successful blend between action fantasy and paranormal romance. For the second genre, there is the expected interplay between romantic interests and the expected issues keeping them from coming together, but it’s still a bit more traditional fantasy than traditional romance.
This was not Caine’s first book; it was the first book under that name, but she’d previously written as Roxanne Longstreet Conrad. Her experience helps her structure the book well and she provides an engaging storyline. To her immense credit, she also ends the series before it wears out its welcome and becomes too repetitive.