I must say, Louise Erdrich is a gifted storyteller - a true master of the written word! Her descriptions allow the reader to fall into the pages of thI must say, Louise Erdrich is a gifted storyteller - a true master of the written word! Her descriptions allow the reader to fall into the pages of the story and become engrossed in the lives of the characters. The Painted Drum gives the reader a lot to think about - mysticism and tribal lore, spirituality and the natural world, life and the eventuality of death - you will be haunted by this novel long after you have put it down.
With exquisite descriptions and poetry, Louise Erdrich has captured my imagination again. I will be on the look out for her other novels at the library and bookstore. The Painted Drum is truly inspired and beautiful. ...more
"The time is a hundred and twenty million years ago. On the flat, featureless floodplains that were central Utah, an evolutionary event is about to o"The time is a hundred and twenty million years ago. On the flat, featureless floodplains that were central Utah, an evolutionary event is about to occur that will shock the ecological community of dinosaurs. This event is the arrival of a new superpredator."
- Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker
Robert T. Bakker's Raptor Red is the story of the giant Utahraptor, as told through the eyes and experiences of a young female living in the Early Cretaceous period. Pieced together from the fossil remains of Utahraptor and from other clues found in the surrounding sediments, Raptor Red gives the reader a glimpse into evolutionary forces that were changing the natural world during the Early Cretaceous period. During this time, the invisible hand of natural selection was creating not only our own human relatives, but also the earliest beginnings of other animals and plants that enjoy supremacy in today's world. Bakker reminds us that Utahraptor's story is part of our story - hers was a "beautifully alert and sentient species", and her story is nothing short of astonishing.
I was never a "dinosaur girl" growing up - that distinction belonged to my little sister. I can remember her having lots of books and toy dinosaurs laying around when we were children. I always thought of dinosaurs as a "boy thing", so I was just not interested. As I grew up and went to college, I became interested in evolutionary biology and biological anthropology, etc., and I now proudly proclaim to the world that I am very much a "dinosaur girl", and hope to read many more books on the subject! But I digress...
Back to the book. The heroine in this novel is almost identical to the Velociraptor made famous by the blockbuster movie "Jurassic Park" about a year after the discovery of her fossil remains. This new species in the fossil record - christened Utahraptor - is Raptor Red, our heroine. She is an intelligent killer, a fast-moving, 500-pound beast with razor-sharp claws and feet.
Bakker relates Raptor Red's story beautifully, with more character development than you will find in many novels about people. From the first pages of her story, you find yourself identifying with Raptor Red, holding your breath when she stalks her prey and when she is in danger, aching for her loss, sighing as she rejoins her sister's pod, and celebrating when she finds a new mate.
When an author attempts to evoke the life experiences of an animal from the animal's point of view, it can sometimes fall flat if the research concerning the subject is not credible. This is not the case in Raptor Red. It is clear from the beginning, that Bakker knows his subject. The action is fast-paced and incredible, while the science behind the story remains authentic and well-researched.
Raptor Red is a highly entertaining novel, full of scientific explanation that is subtly weaved into the story. Utahraptor was an intelligent, cunning, and efficient superpredator with an amazingly complex society. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Raptor Red's intelligence, ingenuity, and inquisitiveness as she explored her world. The unique blend of action and information in Robert T. Bakker's Raptor Red makes for a compelling read for anyone interested in dinosaurs or other animals....more
A beautifully illustrated guide to the worlds 270 or so species of living primates, The Primate Family Tree is wonderfully organized and easy to read.A beautifully illustrated guide to the worlds 270 or so species of living primates, The Primate Family Tree is wonderfully organized and easy to read. Contained within this slim volume is an introduction to primates - explaining what makes a primate a primate, and information on the geographical distribution, social structure, diet and communication, and of course, conservation strategies.
The Primate Family Tree would be a useful introduction to anyone interested in primates. However, the information may be a little superficial for someone already acquainted with the primate family....more
"I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla."
- from A Primate's"I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla."
- from A Primate's Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky
A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, is the story of Robert M. Sapolsky's fieldwork as a young graduate student in Kenya. The goal of Sapolsky's graduate work was to determine the relationship of baboon stress levels to their overall health over a period of years. Sapolsky recounts his time spent anesthetizing the baboons in his troop and documenting the results of their "check-ups", watching the troop in the stifling heat and recording behavior, and enduring the many difficulties that come with life in the bush.
The memoir is not only about the baboons however. During his down time, Sapolsky leaves the relative safety of the game reserves and hitchhikes into dangerous territories for sight-seeing experiences. He manages to describe his travels as "vacations-from-hell," with enthusiasm, impeccable timing, incredible humor, subtly drawing similarities between the baboons and humans for his readers.
Sapolsky certainly is an entertaining storyteller, and much of his memoir is laugh-out-loud funny!. My favorite among his many adventures, was the story of the giant cockroaches and army ants invading his tent. Can you say, "BLECH!!!"?
Although there was nothing there that I really didn't know before picking the book up, it is definitely full of good information on primates and primatology. It's obvious from this well-written book that Robert M. Sapolsky loves him some baboons! The baboons in "his" troop all become quite like his family by the end of the study.
The combination of the story of the baboons - each with it's own very distinct personality - and Sapolsky's own story, is a worthwhile and entertaining read. A Primate's Memoir is amusing and full of gritty adventure, while also being a serious scientific study of the savanna baboons of Kenya. The story is captivating and a pure joy to read....more
Of course I'm going to pick up a book with an Amur tiger on the cover...
I have not seen the 10 episode Discovery Channel series that goes along with tOf course I'm going to pick up a book with an Amur tiger on the cover...
I have not seen the 10 episode Discovery Channel series that goes along with this book, but let me tell you, the book stands on its own. The most diverse of the vertebrates, mammals include the largest animals on earth (blue whales), animals that fly (bats), and animals that can eat almost any type of food. The author makes sense of this diversity by dividing mammals into easily understandable groups and explaining how evolution has shaped the lives of each of these groups of mammals. Attenborough discusses what makes a mammal a mammal, then goes on to discuss the varying lifestyles of mammalian species.
The text itself is very easy to read. The writing style is engaging and informative, and no previous knowledge of biology or zoology is needed to understand this book. Attenborough caters to a very broad audience, and does not try to confuse the reader with lots of scientific terminology. The Life of Mammals would be very good reading for anyone interested in animals and mammals in general.
From learning about the navigation methods of bats and the special habits of meat eaters to understanding the natural history of water mammals, this book provides a focus which contrasts environments and evolutionary processes, and makes for an important and innovative guide. Heavily illustrated with beautiful photographs, this is a terrific introduction to the wonders of our hairy, milk-producing relatives....more
This is a wonderful book with lots of information an the lesser apes as well as the great apes. It is well organized and would make an excellent resouThis is a wonderful book with lots of information an the lesser apes as well as the great apes. It is well organized and would make an excellent resource for anyone interested in primate conservation. ...more
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 20 or so years, you already know the premise of Jurassic Park. To quote one of my favorite lines fUnless you've been living under a rock for the last 20 or so years, you already know the premise of Jurassic Park. To quote one of my favorite lines from the movie: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth." Well, there you have it in a nutshell: a wealthy eccentric named John Hammond buys an island in Costa Rica and turns it into Jurassic Park - a living biological preserve for genetically engineered dinosaurs.
The thing you need to know about the book is that it is quite different from the movie on a number of points. I will not spoil it for you here, but suffice it to say that I have seen the movie numerous times, and I never knew what was coming next in the book. It had me reading quickly to get to the end and see how the characters were going to get out of trouble. In my opinion, the book kicks the movie's a**.
Jurassic Park was captivating and completely engrossing from the very first chapter. Michael Crichton sure knew how to create tension and suspense in his novels! I was on the edge of my seat, racing toward the finish line and hoping none of my favorite characters ended up on the dino-diet. It was a fast-paced read and almost impossible for me to put down.
Jurassic Park is simply thrilling - and quite a bit darker than it's movie adaptation. Crichton manages to give the reader all of the scientific details without bogging down the story or giving up even an ounce of the creepy suspense that builds from the first pages. A phenomenal "techno-thriller," Jurassic Park and Michael Crichton deserve every bit of accolade they have received. I am deeply impressed, and will definitely be recommending this book to others.
I love Kingdom of Cats! It's completely out-dated of course, but the photos are beautiful. You just have to take the information within with a certainI love Kingdom of Cats! It's completely out-dated of course, but the photos are beautiful. You just have to take the information within with a certain amount of skepticism - re-check your facts with a good current source before taking them at face value....more
At the beginning Michael Crichton's Congo, a research team looking for blue diamonds deep withing the Congo region has been mysteriously killed - theAt the beginning Michael Crichton's Congo, a research team looking for blue diamonds deep withing the Congo region has been mysteriously killed - the prime suspect: a possibly new species of gorilla. A new team, including a university professor and his research subject Amy, a gorilla who communicates using American sign language, is quickly dispatched to find answers (and diamonds). Unfortunately for them, they seem to be no match for the cunning and ruthless killing machines they discover.
I recently read and really enjoyed Jurassic Park. Having said that, Congo failed to entertain me in the same way. It's not that it wasn't a good story. The premise is incredibly clever, and the natural history of primates and language development are subjects that I find fascinating. The thing that bogged things down for me in Congo was really all of the technology crud. It was simply too over-the-top for me and didn't really add anything to the story.
It is obvious that Micheal Crichton was a talented and creative writer. Technology plays a big part in both of the books I've read by him, but in Congo the sheer magnitude of scientific data completely overwhelms what could have been a truly fascinating story. I can't say I'd recommend Congo, but if you're interested in trying Crichton on for size, try Jurassic Park. I'll be picking up The Lost World next week and I expect it to be wonderful. ...more
Lions, brown hyenas, and other animals are studied and reported on by the authors in this book. They love these animals and it shows through their wriLions, brown hyenas, and other animals are studied and reported on by the authors in this book. They love these animals and it shows through their writing. Their stories are entertaining but I certainly can't agree with their methods. I think that they were very fortunate not to have been killed in the process....more
This is a great book for people who are serious about the evolutionary biology of the big cats. It is very scientific and not really a light or easy rThis is a great book for people who are serious about the evolutionary biology of the big cats. It is very scientific and not really a light or easy read. It is more a book for the professional or for students doing projects on cats. It is extremely informative however and I have referred to it many times....more
This book is reminiscent of Ruth Padel's Tigers in Red Weather or even Peter Matthiessen's Tigers in the Snow. If you are looking for a book that giveThis book is reminiscent of Ruth Padel's Tigers in Red Weather or even Peter Matthiessen's Tigers in the Snow. If you are looking for a book that gives you good information on tigers while telling you a story of the author's travels, then look no further. This book chronicles a four-year period in the author's life and is a fascinating account of the plight of the wild tiger in India....more
I picked up this book at the library. I was researching TCM and its impact on tiger populations for a presentation. This book was interesting but I foI picked up this book at the library. I was researching TCM and its impact on tiger populations for a presentation. This book was interesting but I found that it bogged down when discussing all the non-governmental organizations and their roles in protecting the tiger. Ellis is a journalist, not a biologist, and therfore has a somewhat unique take on the subject. However, I must admit that I basically skimmed the last quarter or so of the book. The discussion of the NGOs just did not interest me at all. I would have enjoyed a closer look at TCM itself without all the NGO stuff....more