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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Book Review: The Caline Conspiracy by M. H. Mead

February 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Woman and fluffy dog against black and green backgroundSummary:
In near future Michigan, a geneticist is murdered by his pet caline–a new pet created by gene splicing to have all the best characteristics of dogs and cats combined and guaranteed to be docile.  His widow doesn’t believe that their beloved pet could possibly have done the killing so she hires private investigator Aidra Scott to prove her innocence.  But as Aidra digs deeper into the mystery she finds far more intrigue than the possibility of a framed pet.  This intrigue could rock a nation already debating geneticism.

Review:
I was intrigued primarily by the idea of calines.  As an animal lover I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the idea of a caline.  While the calines are pulled off well, they are not the focus of the book.  This is definitely a near future scifi mystery, and it’s well-done.

The plot is a typical murder mystery with a twist.  The pet is possibly framed, and the pet was created in a lab by geneticists.  While I had my suspicions about whodunit early on, I must admit I wasn’t entirely right, plus there was an added twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.  The plot will definitely keep you reading, even if you’ve read a lot of mysteries.

That said, there was at least one dead-end in the plot that I found frustrating.  Aidra goes to visit the fringe group that protests genetic manipulation and gets tossed out on her ass, but we never really find out why the group was so hostile or much else about that angle into the whole thing really.  Between that and the twist at the end, I was left wondering if a follow-up novel is intended, although all signs indicate the authors don’t intend to write one.  If they don’t, I must say I found that the plot left me hanging a bit.

The main character is a single mother of a young teenage boy.  This is different from what we see in a lot of mystery, and I enjoyed the new perspective.  The cast was also quite diverse, which is appropriate for the setting.  The characters were fairly well-rounded for a mystery novel.  One thing that did bug me is that some Britishisms slipped into the American text.  Long-time readers know that this is an issue that really bugs this particular reviewer.  The authors (M. H. Mead is a pen-name for a pair of writers) try to explain this away by mentioning that Aidra is originally from the UK.  While that explains some of her own Britishisms, it doesn’t explain why they sneak into the narration.

Overall, this is a fun scifi mystery.  It consists of an interesting germ of an idea with a few plot twists to keep the reader guessing.  It could use a few more tweaks, but fans of the mystery genre will enjoy it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy provided by authors in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: White Fang by Jack London

June 8, 2011 1 comment

Wolf.Summary:
White Fang is born in the wild 1/4 dog and 3/4 wolf.  He soon finds himself back in the realm of man when his mother returns to the Indian camp she had left.  Thus begins the struggle between White Fang’s desire for the companionship of the human gods and the call of the wild inside him.

Review:
This companion novel to The Call of the Wild flips the original story on its head.  Instead of it being a dog feeling the call of the wild, we have a wolf feeling the call of the companionship of man, in spite of mistreatment.  The story doesn’t quite work as well when reversed in that way, though.

Both White Fang and Buck suffer mistreatment at the hands of men that is incredibly painful for an animal lover to read about.  Whereas this served to make it understandable why Buck leaves for the wild, though, it makes it difficult to understand why White Fang doesn’t do the same.  Yes, eventually he meets a master who loves him and cares for him, but for years prior that is not the case.  Perhaps London is attempting to demonstrate the intense loyalty of dogs to their masters whether or not they deserve it.  It is true that animal rights workers see this sort of situation over and over again, yet White Fang is mostly wolf.  It is difficult to believe his wild nature would not take over at some point, particularly when being mistreated.    If this story was told of a dog and not a wolf, it would make more sense.

That said, London’s strength at delving into the animal world without personifying them to be more human than they are is still incredibly strong here.  The animals are not personified but they are humanized.  By that I mean, their personalities and instincts are clear and understandable.  It is difficult to imagine anyone reading this book then proceeding to abuse an animal.  They are truly remarkable creatures, London excels at demonstrating this.

Overall, this book is not as amazing as The Call of the Wild but it is well-worth the read for more time spent seeing animals through Jack London’s eyes.  Recommended.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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Companion Book:
The Call of the Wild, review

Book Review: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

January 11, 2011 12 comments

Wolf howling at the moon.Summary:
Buck is a spoiled southern dog enjoying a posh life when one of the family’s servants steals him and sells him away to be a sled dog for the Alaska gold rush.  Buck soon goes from an easy life to one of trials and tribulations as the result of humans fawning over a golden metal, but it might not be all bad for him in the wild Alaskan north.

Review:
How did I make it to be 24 years old without having read this American classic?  My shame was somewhat alleviated when my dad told me he was in his 20s too when he read it for the first time.  Honestly, I can see why this book is talked about so much.

Jack London understands animals.  He doesn’t present them as talking to each other the way humans speak, but he does present them as sentient beings with unique personalities and ways of interacting.  It’s not easy for them to understand what humans want, and yet humans expect them to figure it out.  Of course, London also highlights the wildness at the heart of every tamed animal.  That is part of what makes them amazing, beautiful creatures.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling the book.  I can say that I rarely cry for a book, but I cried for this one.  Animal advocates would do well to simply encourage people to read this book.  I have a hard time imagining anyone not sympathizing with animals more after reading it.

Beyond that, London’s writing is vivid, the story complex and engrossing.  I highly recommend it to everyone.

5 out of 5 stores

Source: Audiobooks app for the iTouch, iPhone, and iPad

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Please Help the Gulf Animals

My lovely readers, I’m sure no matter where in the world you come to my blog from, you’ve heard about the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  I don’t like to get into politics/big business/whatever, but I am a staunch advocate for animals.  These innocent creatures never use oil in their day to day lives.  They don’t go around creating genocides.  They are less evolved than us and deserve our protection and admiration as the beautiful creatures they are.

This is what the oil spill has done to them:

A devastatingly oil-covered bird in the Gulf of Mexico.

AP Photographer Charlie Riedel's photo of an oil-covered bird as found on Boston.com.

The National Wildlife Federation is working tirelessly to save these innocent beings, or at least to alleviate their suffering.  It’s a huge, unexpected responsibility, and they need all the help they can get.

I beseech you to please go to the National Wildlife Federation’s oil spill donation website and donate today.  Any amount helps.

We caused this–human beings–and my heart weeps for them.  Even if you normally wouldn’t donate to animal or environmental causes, please consider doing so today, particularly if you find my blog a helpful or enjoyable part of your week.  You could give me no nicer gift.

Thank you.