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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Dog Master - A Novel of the First Dog

As regular readers of my little book blog (Troutbirder II) probably know, my reading tastes are fairly eclectic but leaning a little to history and biography.  My latest read ( a novel) perhaps leans way too far back in human history,  like maybe thirty thousand years to the upper Paleolithic period.  The reason for this stretch is quite simple…. My lifelong love for dogs.

Set against the most dramatic time in our species' history, The Dog Master tells the story of one tribe's struggle for survival and one extraordinary man's bond with a wolf - a friendship that changed mankind forever

Thirty thousand years ago, ice was storming the planet. Among the species forced out of the trees and onto the steppes by the advancing cold was modern man, who was both predator and prey.

No stranger to the experiences that make us human-a mother's love and a father's betrayal, tribal war and increasing famine, political intrigue and forbidden love, joy and hope and devastating loss-our ancestors competed for scant resources in a brutal landscape.

Mankind stood on the cold brink of extinction...but they had a unique advantage over other species, a new “technology” - domesticated wolves.

Only a set of extraordinary circumstances could have transformed one of these fierce creatures into a hunting companion, a bodyguard, a soldier, and a friend. The Dog Master by W. Bruce Cameron is an evocative glimpse of prehistory, an emotional coming of age saga, a thrilling tale of survival against all odds, and the exciting, imaginative story of the first dog.

  The story follows three timelines: the present day life of a professor who believes humans succeeded because of their early relationship with dogs, the early life of Mal's mother, and Mal's attempts to survive with a wolf he names Dog. The story opens with Mal struggling to survive on his own after being cast out of his tribe. He finds a wounded wolf with three puppies and they bond together in a cave. I was instantly hooked by this premise. Every chapter ended with a cliffhanger that propelled me through the book. I cared deeply about Mal's mother and both of her sons. She is intelligent and resourceful, my favorite type of character. The pre-history setting was fascinating, in part because everything is truly life or death. I also loved Clan of the Cave Bear, which I read some years ago. This book is better. I highly recommend  it. Even to people who prefer cats….:)

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@Barrie Summy

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Wright Brothers

David McCullough, one of America's premier history authors,  has come up with another gem, the story of the famous but not well known Wright brothers.   A fascinating tale of family, ingenuity, competition, and even international intrigue.  I enjoyed it a lot....

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Sometimes  in my regular reading habits I wander off into the classics.  It might have been a long time since I’d read a certain book.  Perhaps The Count of Monte Cristo.  Or an author whose work I’d passed by at a younger age. Think Jane Austin. Maybe a famous person of whom I’d read many biographies and history but wanted something in his or her own words.  Julius Caesars The Gallic Wars came to mind.  Then, quite recently,  I was scanning my ereader (Nook) for bargains and there was The Complete Sherlock Holmes for two dollars.  Not one to pass up a bargain, I took it.  Yes, I’d already read it in fulfillment of Mrs. Himmelbachs 12th grade English “outside reading” requirement. Was it as good as I fondly remembered all those years ago? I intended to find out…..

 From his first appearance in A Study in Scarlett , via his most famous adventures – The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Speckled Band – to his final appearances in the very short stories making up The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, his deductions never fail to bring a smile and that aha moment.

We see Victorian life brought to life in every story. Conan Doyle provides the clever villains & flustered clients flitting in and about  to create a portrait of fascinating characters. They are the heart and soul of each and every tale. And then most of all there is Holmes.    He is one of the most interesting characters ever written. It’s all there. The odd habits mixing with the brilliant deductions.  The quirky humor and single mindedness.   It  adds  up to a personality like none other and yet not fake nor seemingly contrived.   To top it off it’s all very well-written.    Elementary dear reader. Elementary.   I even remembered some of the "solutions" from long ago. Not too bad for a guy who can’t remember where he put his reading glasses half the time…...:)