Thursday, July 12, 2007

This Week At the Library (12/7)

The first book I read last week was Jean M. Auel's The Valley of Horses. It is the second in Auel's Earth's Children series, and I found it immensely entertaining if a bit too fantastic to be believable. In the first book, a young Cro-Magnon girl named Ayla is orphaned by an earthquake. She is found and adopted by a emigrating band of people who call themselves "Clan"; they are Neanderthals and have also been displaced by the earthquake. The Clan of the Cave Bear is set during her growing-up period from childhood to adult hood She is physically and mentally different from the Clan, and her many differences and superior abilities earn her the ill will of the tribe's chieftan's son. At the end of the book, Ayla is exiled from the tribe when the son becomes the ruler. In this second book, she follows a river north hoping to find people that are more like her. She ends up settling in a cave in the middle of a valley occupied by horses. While in the valley, she begins to learn more about herself and her abilities. Her abilities are entertaining, if a bit far-fetched. For instance, she successfully tames a horse and uses it and a cave lion that she rears from a cub to help her hunt. The image of a young woman riding bareback on a horse flanked by a cave lion is interesting, but hard to believe. The book also focuses on another main character; a man named Jondolar. Jondolar is a Cro-Magnon man, and half of the book follows he and his brother Thonolan as they embark on a journey together.As the plot progresses, Jondolar is injured and falls under Ayla's care. As she takes care of them, they learn about one another and fall in love. Eventually the two of them decide to leave the valley together.

The Tribe of Tiger was a look at cats -- both domesticated and wild. It explores why they act the way they do. Tiger is a short but informing read, and I was never bored once. I checked this book out mainly because of a a lifelong fascination with big cats (my bedroom walls through my lifetime have been filled with pictures of lions, cheetahs, and especially tigers), but I think cat owners are the ones who would enjoy this book the most. I may own a cat in the future (once I'm done with university), so I thought it a wonderful read. The author is Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.

Dolphin Days was a similarly-themed book. The book was written by a marine biologist ( Kenneth S. Norris) who records what he learned through years of research into spinner dolphins. I enjoyed the book, but given my love for cetaceans I'm a bit biased. The last book I read this week was the second half of Asimov's Nightfall and other Stories. Asimov is a wonderful writer, although that's like saying Beethoven had an ear for music. I found every single one of the stories in this book to be entertaining. The settings of these various stories vary, but only three of them take a bit of getting used to. The others happen right here on Earth, and many of them not that far in the future. While I loved reading the short stories, I liked the introductions that he prefaced them with best. Asimov's wonderful personality really comes through in them.

Pick of the Week: Nightfall and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov.

Now to determine my reading for this week: I came to the library with four books in mind. The first two were by Philip Margolin. Margolin writes legal thrillers. I have read two of his books; Gone, but Not Forgotten and Proof Positive. The latter could have practically been a CSI episode. Today I aimed to pick up After Dark and The Associate. I found these two books when I searched the library's catalog for information on Portland, Oregon. Margolin lives in Portland, and sets many of his books in that city. I checked out The Associate, which is the story of a young lawyer who finds that his law firm may be defending a company that has committed horrific crimes. I planned to check out After Dark, but was compelled to leave it there until next week.

I made this decision based on the length of the second book I checked out this week; Stephen King's The Stand. Given my inherent disdain for supernaturalism, I do not do much reading in the horror genre. The last horror books I read, in fact, were the Goosebumps and Fear Street books of my childhood. Those are aimed at middle-school and high school students respectively. I have always wanted to read something by King, given his reputation in fiction. The Stand's plot deals with a virus that is accidentally developed and then sweeps across the globe and destroying civilization. It spanned several inches on the shelf, so I decided that three books would suffice for this week.

The third book I checked out was the third in the Earth's Children series. I don't know what Ayla and Jondolar will do, but I look forward to finding out and would bet money that I'll enjoy the read. So, here is my selection for the week:
  1. The Stand by Stephen King
  2. The Associate by Philip Margolin
  3. The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel

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